Saturday, November 06, 2010

What I'm listening to now : Cobalt

Cobalt - Gin

I just got this one on a whim as I'd read about their stuff in Terrorizer - I've fallen out of fashion with modern metal recently but I still try to check out new stuff from time to time. This album was listed at #2 in their best albums poll last year behind the latest Converge LP so I thought it'd be worth a pop.

At the risk of sounding hideously out of touch, I've found it hard getting halfway excited by any heavy metal records of the last few years - a lot of it just sounds like revamps of old school shit with more expensive production, and I can't be fucked wading through droves of 'core' bands with stupid names like 'Every time she screams my blood runs black' who spend all day trawling E-bay for skintight Possessed T-shirts so they can look cool in their next video. The only genre really worth spending your time over is Black Metal, although I have to admit that I generally find it more interesting to read about than actually listening to it. I spent Saturday a couple of weeks back looping some classic Emperor stuff on Spotify and it just sounded a bit overblown for my liking (plus having some irritating French sales chick trying to plug their new free jazz playlist just before 'The loss and curse of reverence' kind of spoils the moment).

'Gin' is sort of attached to BM in a loose manner, although the creators refer to it as 'Extreme War Metal' which sort of conjures up images of a bunch of Belgian dorks in corpse paint and bullet belts pulling faces in a cave. These guys are much less of a scene band though - two short-haired guys from Colorado who are both apparently ex-marines! I think the only thing linking this to typical BM is the mean, visceral soundscapes to some of your darker, uglier emotions.....the title track is about Ernest Hemmingway (whose photo also appears on the cover) and pretty much encapsulates the headspace of your average gin drinker - it's a melancholy, lugubrious drink at the best of times and sinking into a blue stupor on it can conjure up some pretty horrific reflections. Kind of reminds me of the Cerebus tome 'Form and Void' which is also about Hemmingway and turned up towards the end of the project where Dave Sim was dragging out storylines over entire years - it reads like spending all summer indoors with the windows closed. Not sure whether I recommend it.

Anyway, 'Gin' is satisfying in the same way that the uglier parts of Pantera's 'The Great Southern Trendkill' hit the spot - I'd class the latter as 'Whisky Metal' if we're getting to genre politics, as it conjures up the kind of angry, violent drunkeness that stems from a hard session on cowboy grog that you could imagine Anselmo and co using as a source of inspiration for their music. Cobalt, like their pigment namesake, mine a deeper blue seam of desolation than Pantera's red raw fury - I therefore motion that we term this 'Gin metal'. This in turn leads me to search for other categories of 'liquor metal' to investigate.....Anyone got any decent 'Vodka metal' to suggest?

Back to the 'extreme war metal' tag though - the fact that these guys are both marines took me by surprise, but if you think about it then who would be better candidates to make music inspired by the horrors of war than those who have actually experienced them first hand? This reminds me of a flick I saw on YouTube recently, the awesome Christian Bale vehicle 'Harsh Times' in which he plays a disjointed military tyke readjusting to life back in LA - check it out if you have time. His character in that film would probably be more likely caught listening to some crappy misogynist hip hop than the likes of Cobalt, though I think 'Gin' gives a better idea of what's going on in the guy's head during the film. Like most decent BM, the corruscating audio evokes the physical wherever possible and segments like the two part 'Throat' and 'Stomach' provide a pretty good soundtrack to a session on mother's ruin - elsewhere, the truly scary 'Pregnant Insect' harks back to the bloated putrescence of early Khanate. This is double-barrelled horrid all the way through, but brings the listener to a state of catharsis only acheived by getting your fingers well and truly dirty.

Hooray for 'Gin metal' then!