COBALT – Gin (2009)

Cobalt - Gin Cobalt’s first album is entitled War Metal; I bring this up because the album title is a curious one – not having listened to it, I have no idea what it sounds like (though I can guess), but the title doesn’t seem to be indicative of much (hell, Turisas released Battle Metal in 2007 – are the two somehow related?). Now, I’d like you to consider for a moment that guitarist/vocalist Phil McSorley is currently deployed in Iraq. Go back and look at that title again. Hmmm. War Metal suddenly seems different than before.

In the metal realm, Cobalt are relatively unknown, even though their previous album (2007’s Eater of Birds) provided us with one of the best interpretations of the black metal template to ever been released. Two years later, and we now have Gin, an album that achieves what most black metal albums (both traditional and otherwise) fail to do: it creates and sustains a powerful atmosphere and surrounds us with it. Much like the work of Deathspell Omega (even though they’re completely different), Gin represents the next crucial step in the evolution of the genre, a genre which I maintain has been stagnant for too long. This isn’t to say that black metal lacks variety; it’s just that the variety has become predictable. You’re either playing the raw stlye, or you’re going the symphonic route, or you’re going the folk route. And that’s basically it (I refuse to acknowledge blackened death as a legitimate genre on the grounds that Jon Nödtveidt is now dead, so I don’t have to). Given that, it’s not hard to see why Cobalt’s Gin is such a welcome change of pace.

It’s a given that anyone even remotely interested in metal needs to get a hold of Gin; and if you’re not, I’d still recommend it if you’re not averse to confrontational music. Yes. It’s that good, and it’ll surely have a place on my year-end list.

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