Feather And Stone
posted on 3/2008 By:
This little gem came out in 2007 but I didn't hear it until 2008, and if not for the recent release of the new Lair of the Minotaur album, Feather And Stone would be the most metal collection of songs I've heard this year. Black Cobra is the product of drummer Rafael Martinez (who handles the bass in Acid King) and Jason Landrian, who handles the guitar and vocals here. If such a slim lineup has you wondering how just two guys can produce something that's not only good (After all, OM is only two-deep) but also something that constitutes that full-sounding "metal" descriptor, I urge you to listen to this album and have your eardrums blown.
Opener "Five Daggers" may be just 2:26 long, but the band throws enough time signature changes and pattern variations to keep the good riffs moving right along. "The Sapphire Falcon" shows restraint from the all-out slay-fest that follows in "Below the Cusp" and is a good example of how the band keeps the album's short length well-paced and engaging the whole way through. Then "Below the Cusp" erupts with a gnarly opening riff and for 3 minutes 10 seconds your head shouldn't be anywhere close to still, and you probably shouldn't be driving. When they lock into a groove, as they do here and elsewhere on the aptly-named "Ascension", they're unstoppable. Around 1:40 the guitar pattern starts mutating and the energy builds and builds until another moment of well-placed restraint pops up in "Thanos." It's a breather that is very much needed (and the cherry on top is that it's also not a throwaway track). "Red Tide" is just over two minutes of thrashing broken up with a sludgy break. Probably my least favorite track here simply because its simplicity, no matter that it's well done, doesn't showcase the intricacies laced into monstruous riffs that makes Black Cobra so appealing to me. The next track hears my complaint and brings everything good about this band to a head. "Dragon And Phoenix" slows things down considerably, shows off Rafael's more-than-solid drumming, and puts the band's ability to build depth and texture with their limited instrumentation front and center. As far as references go, Kylesa's newest comes to mind. (I'd also like to name-drop Eyehategod, Sourvein and Converge, but those could be potentially misleading. Imagine a sped-up Will To Mangle performed by Eyehategod and covered by Converge and then throw in the crust of Kylesa and I think we're in the ballpark).
The production is muddy of course, but this is sludge we're talking about, so I wouldn't have it any other way. The guitar tone is perfect for this sound, nice and thick and fuzzed out to make you forget that you're only listening to a guitarist, vocalist and a drummer. This short 25-minute full-length is incredible. What makes a good sludge song? Good riffs. And Black Cobra pack more sweet riffs into this short release than Barack Obama packs fainting supporters in college auditoriums. Highly recommended.
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