You know that slogan we have at the top? That we’re dedicated to covering all things heavy, groovy and generally kick-ass? Well. ‘Invernal’, the new album from stoner metal duo Black Cobra, is certainly befitting of that motto. Particular the third attribute, because shit goddamn, I really felt like I’d gone 12 rounds with Manny Pacquiao after listening to this.
The first couple of tracks, ‘Avalanche’ and ‘Somnre Tenerbre’ completely steamroll, opposition falling to a barrage of slick-heavy riffs and a relentless drum beat. Following that, ‘Invernal‘ settles down into more of a mid-paced vibe. ‘Corrosion Fields’ begins with a doomy, echoey intro, before hitting the power surge again with a sweet slower, hookier riff. That expansion allows it to blossom into one of ‘Invernal‘s premier tracks with some great riff and tempo changes, and sets the tone for the remainder of the record.
That said, its not all travelling in the same gear, and Black Cobra’s ability to further land blows upon you unsuspectingly is again displayed on ‘Beyond’; starting with another lone guitar line and again building the drums upon the guitar upon the drums, before launching into a scuzzy, thrashy bludgeoner. It lets up again halfway through, giving you enough time for respite with a quieter, doom twang, before picking you up again for yet more punishment.
It suckerpunches again later in the album to great effect, drawing you in with the instrumental ‘Abyss’ – a decent enough track, perhaps marking an event somewhere in the album’s story in its overall mood. It lurches from one riff to another but is perhaps best served as foil for the closer, ‘Obliteration’, which is absolutely furious. ‘Invernal‘s shortest track begins with a single snare, before launching a full on blackened thrash assault. The drums blast amid a swamp of riffery and all out attack. It abruptly finishes. Game over. You’re out cold.
Guitarist Jason Landrian and drummer Rafael Martinez have certainly brought their A-game to album number four, and show an increased maturity by basing ‘Invernal’ on the works and Antartic expeditions of Ernest Shackleton – with a post-apocalyptic twist. There’s a hint of High on Fire about some of the songs this time, which is no bad thing, although its distinct from Matt Pike’s power trio. I wouldn’t quite say its up there with the best albums of the year, and having not yet seen them live, I’d love to see how their sound on record stacks up against their much-lauded live show. But there’s no denying compared to previous releases this is a step up for Black Cobra, and any release that possesses as much venom and bite as the snake it shares it name with (on this occasion) is a winner in my book.