Cobra Noir - Barricades (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Cobra Noir

Barricades (2006)

Chainsaw Safety

Ever come across an old picture that's completely covered in dust? Probably an old black and white photo that predates the Truman administration, but you can tell it was gorgeous in its time. Hell, maybe even with a paper towel and some glass cleaner, you can have that thing looking better. It won't be in pristine form, but you'll be able to imagine its former glory, you'll be able to picture what's underneath.

Production, or at times, lack thereof can leave a record in much the same regard. You know something worthwhile is under the crackling veneer, hiding right behind that fuzz-laden visage. Cobra Noir's Barricades is that picture, and all it needs is a little extra attention.

The muddled production and constant wall of dissonance do a lot more to help this album than hurt it, as the sludgy hardcore of Cobra Noir accompanies the production style to a 'T.' There's no slick guitar solos and there's no glossy finish; it's a raw, gritty assault on the ears that never stops coming. Cobra Noir's strength lies in their unyielding energy; from one song to the next, the guitars are frenetically buzzing and the thick scowls of vocalist Alex Von Viper boom through. His words may be unintelligible, but his passion is strong and focused, as is the same for the rest of his bandmates and their voracious musical output.

This is music that needs to be listened to at as loud a volume as possible, as it's not even so much a listening experience but an exercise in appreciation. Appreciation of the throat-searing vocals, of the thrashy riffs, of the tight time kept by drummer Mamba De Hamer. It's such a cohesive and perfectly formulated attack -- the rolling riffs in "Come Crashing" lead perfectly into the subtle riff variances that hide behind that thick wall of distortion. It may take a little bit of extra effort to listen to things like that, but the rewards are loud, and the rewards are aplenty. The two-minute follow-up, "Monuments" moves at a much faster pace, but there's still a lot going on beneath the surface that rounds out the devastating attack. Seemingly hitting from all sides, there's always something different to look for and something different to discover.

You just have to be willing to look.

And most people will take one passive listen to the album and never give it a second thought; it's a real shame. This gritty, focused record is one that really has a lot going for it. The instrumentation is tight, the vocals are full of anger, and there's just the right amount of discordant riffing to pull the two together.