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Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
At this stage in their career, there’s been so many words used to describe Earth’s ever changing sound that there’s pretty much no more superlatives available to describe them. So we’ll keep it simple and describe new album ‘Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II‘ for what it is. Recorded at the same time as part I, ‘Angels II‘ sees Earth supplying yet more lush riff-orientated sonic soundscapes, continuing down the drone desert blues path forged since their reinvention by mainman Dylan Carlson seven years ago now.
Setting the scene with ‘Sigil of Brass’, ‘Angels II‘ is another slice of Morricone-tinged compositions, led as ever by the timeless Carlson. Lori Goldston turns in another impressive performance, and her work on the cello is particularly notable, especially on ‘Multiplicity of Doors’, a thirteen-minute doozy where she takes centre stage. Goldston is always noticeable but never overpowering, remaining the ideal foil to Carlson’s guitar and perfect for the setting Earth seek to project. Where drummer Adrienne Davies is in the picture, she too sets the tone with elegant percussion scattered across this track and selectively across the album.Ultimately one of the highlights has to be ‘The Rakehell’, an incredible slow jam with a cracking groove throughout that would make for a fantastic bluesy number if the pace was quickened.
That said, as with any Earth album, you really need to listen to it as a whole to fully realise its majesty. Doing so will allow you, the listener, to immerse yourself in its riches time and again. It doesn’t quite top its predecessor but its a recommended record nonetheless, and I suspect you still won’t find many better this year.
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.
At one point, Southern Lord were using the slogan ‘Let There Be Doom’, and you couldn’t see them looking beyond pumping out Sunn 0))) and Burning Witch records for all eternity. But lately, Greg Anderson and co. have taken quite an interest in all things hardcore/punk. Indeed, with a roster that now boasts like Black Breath, Nails, Trap Them, All Pigs Must Die, etc., it seems that Southern Lord have quite the gambit on anything crusty sounding, anything that screams raw anger and bile through the speakers at a considerably faster pace than any of the label’s previous numerous funeral dirges, without sacrificing the heavy.