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The Peak of American Black Metal - 100%

HeavyRiffMotherfucker, May 22nd, 2020

America gets a pretty bad rep when it comes to black metal (among other things). If you believe some of the too-trve-4-u grognards on here, Americans might just be genetically incapable of producing good black metal, our best efforts winding up as inferior imitations of the genre’s Nordic forebears at best, or gentrified art school nonsense at worst. None of these people have ever heard of Cobalt, nor do they deserve to.

Cobalt gives a whole new meaning to the acronym USBM, a black metal band that not only happens to be from America, but SOUNDS distinctively American. Cleverly mixing influences from Neurosis, Swans, Townes van Zandt, and Tool into the black metal mold, Cobalt came up with a completely unprecedented and inimitable sound. The compositions here are simply untouchable. The way these tracks build and collapse and charge forward, sometimes slowing down but never losing momentum, can only be compared to some mutant spawn of Swans and Bathory. Every song offers at least one S-tier riff, even the instrumental interludes, and the drumming propels everything forward at the pace of a furious cavalry charge. The concoction is completed by the unusually polished production, which gives the record an uncanny sound, like something preserved in formaldehyde.

Similarly, Cobalt’s aesthetic vocabulary is completely unique to them, conjuring up images of burning red mesas, mummified shamans, dead insects floating in whiskey, circus freak shows, prison chain gangs, and buffalo herds thundering across the endless, godless plains. This is music for Cormac McCarthy novels. Phil McSorley is a gifted lyricist, his words bleak and raw reflections on sex, death, spirituality, and war, all heavily indebted to the man on the cover.

Gin is the rarest kind of album, one that sounds completely unique, where every song is almost equally addictive, and which flows perfectly as a single cohesive piece. It represents an artistic peak for artist, scene, and genre simultaneously, and never loses its edge. Slow Forever was great, but it honestly never even had a chance of topping this. Just listen to it. It’s fucking good.