Chronomega: Making Time with Black Cobra

Electric beehive!If we?ve learned anything about Los Angeles thunder-thrash duo Black Cobra by this time, it?s that they kick ass. Starting with their 2004 self-titled, self-released EP, and across the two full-lengths that followed (2006?s Bestial and 2007?s Feather and Stone), guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian (Cavity) and drummer Rafael Martinez (Acid King, 16) have left boot prints in the glutes of the multitudes planet-wide, touring incessantly and becoming ever tighter and ever more aggressive. Kicking, in other words, more ass.

So with the surprisingly unceremonious release of their new Billy Anderson-produced Southern Lord debut, Chronomega, it?s not much of a surprise to hear Black Cobra doing what they do best; taking all the intensity of earlier High on Fire and ramping it up even further with Melvins-on-speed riffing and unhinged drum-work that would do Dave Lombardo proud (listen to ?Glacies en Spiritu? — it?s like the whole song is a fill!). Some subtle development in Landrian?s vocals is apparent throughout. Not so much in the beginning — opener ?Negative Reversal? keeps it pretty straightforward — but the echo on the title track gives his voice an early-?90s Ministry vibe and there?s some melody creeping into ?Catalyst? that shows some definite growth. It?s in there if you listen for it.

In the shadows. (Photo by Shannon Corr)Still, and although closer ?Nefarian Triangle? is indeed a worthy addition, I can?t help but feel like Black Cobra could have said everything they needed to say with Chronomega in half an hour. The album is just over 38 minutes, and it wouldn?t seem to make much of a difference, but for a band for whom tightness of execution is so central, I?d almost rather be left wanting more than have too much. Not to harp on Slayer comparisons, because despite similarities in approach the two have very little in common sonically other than playing fast, but Reign in Blood was 28:25, and while I wouldn?t want the task of having to cut one of the songs from Chronomega (okay, you can take ?Lightning in His Hand?), Black Cobra are almost doing themselves a disservice by having too much on the album. The tracks blend together rather than highlight their differences.

Nonetheless, Black Cobra once again show why they deserve to be at the forefront of this generation of metallers, and given the amount of road time they put in, there?s nothing saying they can?t get there. Their live show is unstoppable, and as with Bestial and Feather and Stone, all the ingredients are present on Chronomega, it?s just the songwriting that needs to be more memorable. For now, they?re still kicking ass, even if their methodology for doing so is starting to show some wear and tear.

Black Cobra on MySpace

Southern Lord Recordings

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