By Dr. Abner Mality

At some time in the far future, 2011 will be looked upon as the golden age of jacked up sludge metal. That is, if there is anybody alive with brains enough to appreciate music. Black Cobra doesn't think so. Their new album "Invernal" is the soundtrack of a blasted post-apocalyptic hell. Whether this bleak future comes to pass or not, "Invernal" is still one hell of an angry, brutal metal record.

Southern Lord has been signing this kind of stuff like it was going out of style, but even so, Black Cobra stands out. These guys have been playing pissed off sludge way before it became trendy. The thing about "Invernal" that strikes me is the sheer velocity and ferocious bite of it.  "Avalanche" might be the most aptly titled song of the year...highly reminiscent of Celtic Frost's "The Usurper" chanelled through a band like Sourvein. Yes, it's that fuckin' good and Rafa Martinez' drums do indeed sound like boulders crashing down from on high. Nor is there much let up. "Somnae Tenebrae" is even faster and more abrasive than the opener and cuts such as "Erebus Dawn" and "Obliteration" also rely heavily on speed. With "The Corrosion Fields", we finally slow down, at least at first, with some truly ponderous and ominous sludge. But the song builds and builds in tension and riffing, becoming a veritable orgy of thick guitar strikes that are monolithic in nature. Incredible song, yet it is surpassed by "The Crimson Blade", surely the best tune Black Cobra have ever penned. It's hard to convey the epic power of this's like the heaviest High On Fire intermixed with almost machine-like precision grooves. One hell of an awesome track.

Only real disappointment was the instrumental "Abyss", which is not bad but seems very average compared to the tunes around it. "Invernal" is a perfect 40 minutes of heavy metal at its most primal and powerful. It should be put in a time capsule to survive the upcoming apocalypse. When it is dug up and unleashed on some future age, it will start one all over again...