Feather and Stone
Black Cobra, "Feather and Stone"
Black Cobra join the club that’s currently led by bands like High on Fire and Mastodon. On the group’s Feather and Stone album, these guys spew forth eight short tracks in right around 25 minutes. The music, as you’d expect, takes on a neanderthal pace and heaviness, is drenched in fuzzy, bottom-feeding guitar tones and is wracked with tortured vocals, akin to those of High on Fire.
The dynamic of mixing sludgy doom into short songs is a dangerous one that only partially works for Black Cobra. Most bands rely on groove, melody or build-up/release to make a song notable. The last two of these are generally most important for bands of this genre, and the songs on Feather and Stone are often too short for the gradual build-up, and in many cases the band simply don’t have the high-quality grooves to make their material super engaging.
The uber-spacey interlude “Thanos” ends up being one of the best songs on the disc simply because it’s different and it does allow for anticipation of the imminent heaviness (which, incidentally only arrives on the following track, “Red Tide”). Parts of “Five Daggers” and “Swords for Teeth” have potential in the riff department, but never quite deliver what’s promised early on. This is a theme that the band continues with a number of the other tracks on Feather and Stone. The only one that they really, really nail is the longer, slower “Dragon and Phoenix,” and a good portion of why is because they let it decay into a heavy, brooding, experimental instrumental about half way through. There is build-up tension here, and more importantly there’s delivery, as the song slows and ends.
Black Cobra haven’t hit the bulls eye with Feather and Stone, but with longer tracks and more attention to song progression they could become a heavy-hitter in the scene. It’ll take quite a bit more restraint, and a lot of thoughtful songwriting to accomplish this, though.