Thursday, 23 July 2015

Sweet Cobra - 'Earth' (Album Review)

'Earth' will sit nicely in any collection and would add some melodic relief in between the usual tipple of sludge, doom, death metal and black metal. Brilliant.’

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/07/2015
Label: Magic Bullet Records

‘Earth’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Far Too Temp
02. Future Ghosts
03. He Tall He
04. Complaints
05. Flight Risk
06. Sunburned Sons
07. Repo
08. Stiff Fits
09. Blue Rose
10. Jealous of Drugs
11. Old Haunts
12. Walls

Sweet Cobra is:

Jason Gagovski | drums and cymbals
Robert Arthur Lanham Jr. | guitar
Botchy Vasquez (aka Tim Remis) | vocals and bass


'Earth' is the fourth album from Chicago stalwarts Sweet Cobra and their first as a 3 piece. While being predominantly a post hardcore band, they do have their sludgier moments. To those unfamiliar with this band, think of what would happen if Torche and Hot Water Music decided to form a supergroup. 

The guitars that emulate from first track 'Far Too Temp' are fuzzy, scuzzy and filthy.  Energetic rawk ensues and a massive chorus will keep fans of the more melodic side of heavy music interested. This album was mixed by Kurt Ballou (and parts of it were recorded by him too) and it certainly shows as second track 'Future Ghosts' has that raw, Ballou feel to it. Robert Arthur Lanham Jr's guitars sound simple but intense as drummer Jason Gagovski pounds away with a straight forward d-beat to excellent effect for half of the song. 'He Tall He' focuses the energy, and hammers home the riff and rhythm. The melodic vocals of bassist/vocalist Timothy 'Botchy Vasquez' Remis are in fine form as 'Complaints' rips through the speakers. The guitars provide the album with a few moments of post metal, sounding a little like keyboards before the thick guitars play out the songs last minute or so while Remis sings "bombs away" a few times.

'Flight Risk' is a tad slower than any of the other songs and the almost shoegaze nature of the guitars keeps the album from being one dimensional in it's delivery. Sixth song 'Sunburned Sons' kicks off with a metallic riff and the head swingingly brilliant drum pattern and the crushing distortion make this song a personal highlight. Side 2 begins with 'Repo' which is just a brilliant track, say no more. The vocals are a truly unique feature of this band and this is evident on 'Stiff Fits' where Remis sings a very interesting melody throughout the verse and the rocking chorus. Again, the guitars are heavy as a fuzzy sledgehammer until the last 10 seconds where a sombre melody is picked. That bleeds nicely into 'Blue Rose', a catchy, melodic, bundle of raw energy which would be a great first single. Any misconceptions about this being a lightweight album are stripped away during the songs closing moments; the guitars are seriously heavy!

'Jealous of Drugs' is up next and is more melancholic in its vocal delivery. Some haunting overtones make this song the perfect companion to a cocaine come down or a brutal hangover...right up until the faster part kicks in and shakes the shit out of you. The drums of penultimate track 'Old Haunts' is reminiscent of some late 90's punk. You know the kind that would be featured on an Epitaph or Fat Wreck Chords release, The Swingin' Utters springs to mind. Finally 'Walls'; very Foo Fighters but that's my lazy journalistic reference, it's a lot better than the Foos! Vocalist Botchy is joined by his wife Elizabeth on backing vocals for this one and the harmonic contrast is beautifully crafted. The shimmering electric guitar sticks to the atmosphere while the sound of a plucked acoustic guitar ushers in the end of the album.

Sweet Cobra should be mentioned in the same breath as Torche and Baroness, possibly a referential point to someone who likes the Foo Fighters but wishes they were heavier and more hardcore. Their song writing has come on leaps and bounds since 2010's 'Mercy' which, while heavier in riff content, lacked the focused energy of this. 'Earth' will sit nicely in any collection and would add some melodic relief in between the usual tipple of sludge, doom, death metal and black metal. Brilliant.

Words by: Chris Bull

‘Earth’ is available here

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