Review Summary: A grimy homage to all things metal, devolved to its most primal and animalistic
Good on Eric Wunder for parting ways with that juvenile ***lord vocalist, Phil McSorely. On top of his childish and embarrassing interviews, the guy was kind of garbage. Slinging misogynistic and homophobic rhetoric isn't okay in metal in 2016 (nor was it ever) so it's refreshing to see it dealt with so effectively and to such praise. Despite the themes and acerbic hatred spewing forth from the lyrics, Phil McSorely was never the true creative ingenue (even though he was technically the band's founder.) No, Cobalt was always Wunder's baby, really. Now, seven years later that baby has outgrown Wunder considerably, forcing him to change the band into something all together different.
is in essence a stark change in direction for the band. Once US black metal heroes, Cobalt have definitively shed almost all ties to the genre. To find black metal connections would be an exercise, requiring listeners to search for undertones that were once at the forefront. 2009's Gin
gave hints as to where Wunder was going, but it was so subtle that no one saw what was to come.
The band's new direction is felt immediately. The first guitar licks at the beginning of "Hunt the Buffalo" buffet the listener with a dusty, outlaw country tone. Its bluesy feel hits hard right away, putting at the forefront something that was always felt but never seen. What's so fascinating is that Cobalt never really follow through with this sound, instead relying on little flourishes here and there. Instead, much of Slow Forever
delves into a sort of hardcore or "punk" territory. Then it derails into sludge metal territory. Along the way it passes through metalcore and doom as well. At its most incendiary and rapid fire moments, it's hard not to recall bands like Refused or even Trap Them. At its murkiest, Eyehategod rears its head. Yeah, yeah this is a bit of a stretch for sure, but this time around the band is more immediate and excessive than ever, all without dipping into their storied black metal history.
The black metal that the band became known for was a vehicle for Phil McSorely oppressive anger and fiery hatred. Sure he was a total weirdo about it, but the serrated edges of their sound really did imply a fierce and jagged underbelly. Even without such harsh sounds, Cobalt manage a palpable anger and intensity. Featuring Fell of Lord Mantis fame,Slow Forever
is down right bestial in its display of rage. It's an animal-like and primal record that feels more real and more genuine than McSorely war crap ever did.
The aforementioned change in vocalists is probably going to be an underrated facet of Slow Forever
's success. Charlie Fell of Lord Mantis fame is a savage vocalist with a bellowing voice that gives way to ear splitting shrieks. His work on this album brings it to another level completely. McSorely was a pretty amazing vocalist for Cobalt, with a pitch-perfect black metal voice that had a dark and menacing power behind it. Fell, however, is much more lively and dynamic. He shifts readily between anthem like shouts and shrill raptor screams. His contributions to the album is immense and he deserves the highest praise possible.
will no doubt draw much ire for its runtime. Its a double album (barely, really) that runs about 85-minutes. Featuring songs that average about seven or eight minutes, the record is certainly hefty. What's so surprising is how trimmed it sounds. One might expect an hour and a half of meaty extreme metal to feel bloated, but in all actuality it feels practically svelte. That isn't to say that some things could have been cut out. Sure there are moments of awkwardly long outro segments or yawn inducing intros, but those are few and far between. As a whole, Slow Forever
is perfectly composed and assembled, breezing by as if it were half its length.
It's difficult to really assemble a cohesive thought pattern about the record. Cobalt have made a masterwork of modern metal that defines classification. It's just heavy, multifaceted music that dips its fingers into every part of the spectrum. Yet the band avoids cosmic wankery. Never does Slow Forever
feel like some sort of disjointed genre bending mess. Rather, its metal at its most primordial. Slow Forever
is Cobalt reborn. From War Metal
through 2009 the band was metal behemoth, given form by a black metal skeleton. Although they have never adhered to any sub-genre orthodoxy, black metal always seemed to be the nexus of their sound, firmly rooting them to reality. With their newest release, Eric Wunder as loosened the tether and slipped into the savage void. The band is all the better for it.