Black Cobra – Invernal

By Gruesome Greg

When I started listening to this album, it was with an open mind. After all, I had never actually listened to Black Cobra before, though I had heard their name mentioned along with a lotta bands that I like. Turns out, that’s precisely the problem. While there’s nothing wrong with this album, there’s nothing much to distinguish it from the Kylesas, Baronesses, High on Fires, Howls and Atlas Moths of the metal world. If a band was to read a manual on the hipper side of sludge metal and then record an album following all its instructions, the result would be a lot like Invernal.

“Corrosion Fields” slows things down after a mostly-mid-paced sludgy thrash attack, to a slightly-slower sludgy attack with a growled chorus that falls somewhere between Mike Scheidt and Mike Williams in the vocal department. “The Crimson Blade” gets lost in a maze of winding instrumental riffs that don’t really seem to go anywhere, though it’s got a half-decent drum fill near the end.

Although some songs start of slow and sparse, like “Beyond” and the aforementioned “Corrosion Fields,” they go back to their mind-numbing, bash-and-crash sludgy mess within seconds. The former does offer a slow section in the middle with at least one decent Sleep riff. “Erebus Dawn” has some decent staccato riffing going on, but more or less sounds like mid-period High On Fire. The instrumental track “Abyss” is probably the most interesting on here as it doesn’t fall into the same predictable pattern as the other songs. It’s half-assed YOB worship at best, but that’s still an improvement.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my sludge metal, but I’m more into bands that bring something palatable to the table. If I were to liken the genre to a Mexican restaurant—I also like me some Mexican food—Black Cobra would be the basket of plain tortilla chips they put out before the main course.

(Southern Lord)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.