Black Cobra - Invernal

Southern Lord Records
Produced by Kurt Ballou

Invernal is the the fourth full-length effort from San Francisco, California's doom/sludge duo Black Cobra, and even though their formula hasn't changed all that much, this album still shows this ridiculously heavy band growing both in terms of songwriting as well as the precise honing of their devastating aural assault (an assault they had pretty much nailed on their previous release, 2009's Chronomega).

The album begins and ends with aptly-named tracks Avalanche and Obliteration, and quite frankly, everything in between pretty much fits this description as well. In addition to chokingly heavy doses of sludge (often delivered at mach speed), there are ample elements of doom here, interspersed with a good bit of thrash and just a touch of black metal to make things extra spicy. It all comes together so effortlessly, and thanks to Kurt Ballou's expert production skills, these masters of mass are easily able to cram ten tons of heavy into a five-ton supersack.

Another aspect of this album which is truly interesting is that, although the overall feel is definitely that of a steamroller which is capable of reaching speeds of approximately 100 miles per hour (that's 160 kph for the metric crowd), this album actually does slow down a bit from time to time - and those moments are just as enticing as the faster ones. There are even a few moments reminiscent of a Tool-esque sort of noodling approach being employed. Just be aware, though, that when this juggernaut slows down for just a moment, it's basically just so that it can turn around and then run your ass over again.

Probably the most significant part of this album's appeal comes from the fact that, although the songs are indeed heavy as all get-out, their extreme collective mass is comprised of perhaps some of the most memorable riffs this band has ever written. In other words - this album is massive, yet it's catchy at the same time. While that may sound like an unlikely combination of adjectives, this reviewer challenges you to give this behemoth a listen and then tell me I'm wrong. Just be prepared to come out the exit end of this brutal machine feeling like so many pounds of chewed bubble-gum.

“ feel is definitely that of a steamroller ”

Tracklist: Avalanche / Somnae Tenebrae / Corrosion Fields / The Crimson Blade / Beyond / Erebus Dawn / Abyss / Obliteration

Written by Chris Poling
More: 2011, Albums, Sludge,

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