Cobalt - _Eater of Birds_
(Profound Lore Records, 2007)
by: James Montague (7.5 out of 10)
It's hard to put my finger on it exactly, but Cobalt has a distinctly "American" sound that I've never heard in black metal before. Although their debut LP, unambiguously titled _War Metal_, may have allowed labels and consumers alike to conveniently pigeonhole the band, there is a definite melodic twang in there that reminds equally of Metallica and western film scores.

_Eater of Birds_ sees the Colorado duo take a massive step forward in scope and ambition, a 70 minute monolith of blasting war metal, massive thrash riffs, drawn-out crescendoes and ritualistic interludes. With a thick, professional, yet gritty production akin to latter day Immortal, the initial impression is strong indeed. Although at times I feel Cobalt are trying too hard to please by chopping and choosing the best riffs in extreme metal and pasting them into a crowd-pleasing package, at other times they show a real flair for epic songwriting with their lengthy instrumental passages that build intensity and momentum à la Pelican or early Keep of Kalessin. Another band that comes to mind is Melechesh, who likewise have an exotic tone but keep things enjoyable with unequivocally thrash metal riffing.

It is questionable whether the _Eater of Birds_ needs quite so many instrumental interludes. There are three pieces called "Ritual of Fire" that serve to break up the relentless metal intensity and are quite understandable, but the addition of "Androids, Automatons, and Nihilists", a four-minute meandering pastiche featuring a guest appearance by Jarboe (ex-Swans), takes things a little too far and is frankly one for the skip button. This is the most obvious example of the excess fat that is currently stopping Cobalt from racing towards the head of the pack, but I have every confidence that this immensely talented and ambitious band will produce a real classic in the future.


(article published 2/12/2007)

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