posted on 4/2008 By:
There’s no one out there that will contend that Chicago’s Sweet Cobra ain’t metal. Their brand of sludgy, riff-laden hardcore/metal fusion is meant to be abrasive, and in that respect their 2007 release Forever is a success. That’s pretty much the sole achievement here, however. It may seem strange, but everything about this album sounds the tiniest bit angular and off-key – but intentionally so. There’s good-abrasive and there’s bad-abrasive, and this is definitely the latter. Forever suffers from what could be called an overambitious approach, which results in more of a mish-mash than a cohesive unit, and that’s too bad because their previous effort, 2005’s Praise clicks in many ways.
The most prominent feature of the album is the excruciatingly pained-sounding vocals. At every turn it sounds as though vocalist Remis Vasquez is fighting for his life with only his voice to save him. Frequent simul-backed vocals add depth and weight to this effect. Perhaps too much depth, but I’ll get to that later. A lazy review might compare this sound to Mastodon’s Troy Sanders, but we’ll just say Vasquez approaches the mic with a gut-busting bellow that oozes desperation. While this sounds fairly interesting (and it worked on Praise) it feels forced on Forever. As far as the instrumentation goes, the guitarwork this time around brings Motörhead to mind if they were to up the metal tone, drop the tuning and get a serious hard-on for crusty, dense metal.
There’s a breakneck pace to the album, which combined with the sheer amount of audio thrown in the mix could definitely have benefited from a rest here and there to help the listener catch his or her breath. There is one song that, despite showing the same density, deserves a listen. That song is album opener “Road Born Orphan.” It represents what I perceive to have been the goal of the off-kilter approach Sweet Cobra took with Forever, with loads of different elements chugging along, surprising the listener and even incorporating a completely badass groove into it all. Unfortunately, the album falls apart after that, sounding like 20 pounds of sound shoved into a 10-pound bag.
I really want to like Forever, as you may be able to tell from my fellating of their previous effort (aptly named Praise), but Sweet Cobra really dropped the ball with this one. If you’re extremely interested in the Chicago metal scene, or if you’re hardcore into hardcore music, you might give this a listen, otherwise pick up Praise and wait for something that’s not going to weigh you down past the point of enjoyment. Forever is over-stimulating at best, and exhausting at worst.
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