Review Summary: Cog look to build upon the rebellion begun in "The New Normal" and, in the process, tarnish everything that made the band what it once was. What a way to go out.
Cog was once a very promising young hard rock band. They commanded the genre, serving up a suitable mix of rebellious chanting (similar to System of a Down
) and progressive rock (influenced by Tool
). The one thing in my mind that set these guys apart was how comfortable they sounded in both those styles. When I play their 2005 hit “The New Normal”, I am equally impressed at their shorter, punchier offerings, as well as their epic 10-min long juggernauts. Granted, I only finally got around to listening to Cog within the last 6 months, but its effect is the same regardless of the year listened. Cog had truly stumbled upon the perfect balance and was a truly brilliant example of rock done right.
That description of Cog I just gave? It was thrown away with their 2008 album “Sharing Space”, seemingly forgotten. It was interesting just to see how Cog would evolve from “The New Normal”, but this album feels lackluster, like a step backwards from what they were once. Three years between albums is an average break for a band, short enough that fans don’t starve, long enough for a significant degree of change and influence to set in while the band tours and writes new material. Cog obviously decided to take a more tamed, softer approach to rock. This would have been fine, had they not also dropped the energy and passion of their music, the ‘oomph’ as I like to call it.
“The New Normal” was an album packed with lyrics referring to the state of obliviousness humans have entered as a result of profit-driven corporations and self-righteous governments. The new normal refers to a world where we follow the orders of our superiors and where the nature of daily life is that it is a pointless cyclical phenomenon that we just live through instead of savouring it. That album focused first and foremost upon the individual; what this lifestyle turned the individual into and how it feels. And it was sad, but they delivered it with such passion that you sympathized and sang along with them, no matter how cliché the lyrics were: “Silence, so much violence. Violence, so much silence”
or “Underrated, overstated, real life”
If “The New Normal” was the effect of meaninglessness on the individual, “Sharing Space” is where Cog points the finger at who’s to blame; the government mainly. And it just...isn’t a good look for Cog. Instead, it is the sound of a band who is talking about something they seem to know very little about. It’s an album that is obviously meant to be some sort of rebellion but lacks followers because of how weak the message comes off. “Are You Interested?” leads into a chant stating “Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this. And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist”
. "Swamp" begins with an embarrassing repetition of “I don’t listen at all to the government”
. It seems as though Cog was better suited to stay focused on the everyday person, instead of painting governments as these corrupt machines that insist on things being run their way. It’s just something other bands communicate better.
Musically, the album’s lack of passion and enthusiasm is also inherent in the song writing. It’s as I described, tamed and weak. The opening 9-min track is forgotten by the time it’s over; leaving nowhere near the kind of presence “Real Life” gave as an opener. And the rest of the album follows suit, contributing nothing, doing nothing to make me feel any different about myself, asking me to raise my fists and protest with Cog to no avail. The only time this album may have been on the verge of breaking out of the shell Cog confined it in were the ending moments, specifically the heartfelt “Bitter Pills” and the semi-catchy “Four Walls”. This was one of the most disappointing albums I’ve ever listened to. It wasn’t disappointing because it was the worst album I’ve ever heard, it was just average music from a band I had come to know as one that broke barriers and sang with some passion. I definitely wasn't expecting "The New Normal - Part 2", but something at least a bit reminiscent of old Cog would have sufficed. It’s just not here, and now Cog’s gone leaving us with this empty vessel of an album. Don’t be sorry Cog, I feel sorry for you.