Most often classified as black metal, Gin distinguishes itself from that genre as soon as the album begins. There are elements of rock and roll here in the occasionally twangy distorted guitars, there are gritty breakdowns and oppressive interludes. The percussion explores a variety of rhythms, and like the overall hybrid sound they've created with Gin, it mingles with several genres but settles on none. Cobalt isn't the first band to accomplish this, but they do it with such character and astuteness that it's hard to dismiss.
The second track "Dry Body" is a notable dirge; a thick, almost swampy ritualistic presence that sets a mood for the album as a whole without stylistically dominating it. There's a kind of spooky voodoo vibe in the drumming and Erik Wunder's droning lyrics. There are subtle background noises as the track begins - a cough, rattling, sounds that conjure the image of an ominous gathering of hooded figures. This track aside, be aware that the is one hell of a turbulent ride.
In a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Earnest Hemingway wrote "We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously.” Vocalist Phil McSorley is serious about his lyrics, which makes them that much more thought provoking - at times disturbing. The subject matter isn't a lighthearted affair which is in part why there are no lyrics in the liner notes. Phil believes the story should unfold naturally. Taking his advice, I found there is a certain satisfaction to letting these songs unravel and awaken in their own time without skimming a cheat sheet to get a head start in the process. Gin grows on you at a slow, evolutionary pace - it drags itself up from the mire and reveals itself to you if you give it time, and it's as ghastly as it is glorious. Since I first heard the album it hasn't stopped evolving. For an album to justify its complexity, the process of unfolding has to be rewarding to the listener. I've never taken the time to solve a Rubiks cube because I don't get off on the mathematical or technical aspect of it. The reward isn't worth the effort. I need something more raw and human. If you catch my drift, you will find that Gin is a puzzle worth solving. It is primal, visceral, real. Killing Joke's lyric "Kiss my intellect goodbye!" came to mind as I went ventured into this album. McSorley seems content to tear into the fabric of what makes us human, straight into the raw reality that our morality and civility would deny.
Gin exhibits a solid balance of of diversity and uniformity, it feels more dynamic than the band's previous release "Eater Of Birds" without being incongruous. Even the stirring slave song that closes out the album seems relevant to the whole without an immediately discernible thematic reference.