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Black Cobra - Bestial

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Artist: Black Cobra

Album: Bestial

Label: At A Loss

Review date: Jun. 11, 2006

Hyperbole abounds. Nearly anyone capable and willing to offer opinion is inevitably seen with quarts of blood dripping from their mitts. It’s the epoch of the spray-painted, one-off, limited edition, split one-sided 12”, art edition, signed, special ultra-limited housed in the anus of a dead rat, sell out. Distros as lit red district, critic as sheared sheep grazing from artisan hands. Before recordings compelled clicking laptops, Neanderthal vinyl prodded lunkheaded high-schoolers into suburban basements and garages. Beer and inhalant buzz brought on the anxiety; Tonka trucks were turned into scrap with a sledge, action figures’ features ran down their throats at a Zippo’s urging. The soundtracks were usually the same: Black Flag, Discharge, The Meatmen, The Accused, some speed and death metal – music built from the doldrums of dissatisfaction.

From the selfsame angst comes Black Cobra, a duo built from holiday boredom in Miami, two taking breaks from the small talk to set shit on fire. Black Cobra’s first full-length, Bestial, the result of this necessary coupling, puts forth some convincing power with a nearly palpable emotional quality. Thankfully, the ire is bona fide; the same sort of silent rage that roared to the surface in Black Flag’s “My War,” Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” Ildjarn’s “Nattens Ledestjerne:” the genuine article. Presented in three entirely different ways, it’s impossible to disregard or feign. The sounds, the lyrics, the delivery: it’s akin to watching a friend bound, gagged and torn apart by wolves. Innumerable recordings are likened to this sort of sonic omnipotence; few make good on the preceding claptrap. Appropirately, Bestial, is neither preening “art edition” nor limited. The blue and white tentacles that writhe across the bottom of Bestial’s cover could have come from Hydrahead with its “sound as natural mystery” artistic encapsulation. Even the band’s configuration – a guitar and drums duo – has either been hammered into the ground by Hella or gored to the grave by godheadSilo’s dull horns. After several listens, however, Black Cobra’s Jason Landrian – guitar and vocals – and Rafael Martinez – drums – disarm the preconceptions.

Heavier than Hydrahead’s Big Business, Bestial revs through Karp redlined rockers, slows into sludgy amp athletics, perplexes with thoughtful instrumental interludes. Landrian screams himself hoarse. Martinez pounds skins, bashes brass. Landrian’s guitar doubles as rhythm and lead building stonewall’d riffs for Martinez to bulldoze. The lyrics are indecipherable, wrapped in ennui and released in throat rattling screams. Content is anyone’s guess. This is articulation about a shit day, week or year. Lawn darts for the boss’ head. Sexual frustration worked out quickly over glossy mags. When there’s no money to go out, eat out, or fill up the car, might as well hook up, plug in and rock out a few at the practice space. This type of emotional grease either slips out of its own control into pure hubris, or carries on ably unaware. Hyperbolic or not, “it” is impossible to fake or ape. It’s unrefined, raw and, ultimately, bestial.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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