Cobra Skulls - Sitting Army (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Cobra Skulls

Sitting Army (2007)

Red Scare

Before I get into this, I want it to be said that this didn't need to happen. I didn't have to write this. All I wanted was someone, somewhere on this site to write a Cobra Skulls review. It didn't need to be good, or even positive. Hell, it didn't even need to be about this album. But, you were all too busy making Yellowcard, smegma and dick jokes to do that. Now someone (editor or otherwise) is reading this shitty review and it's your fault. For shame.

The most common criticism about television shows made into movies is, what may have been entertaining in a 30-minute show, doesn't fly as a full-length film. This is the base of my concerns for the Cobra Skulls' first full-length Sitting Army. Before the recent release of Sitting Army, the longest piece of recorded material they put out was their Eat Your Babies EP, which clocked in at 7 songs in just under 15 minutes (if I recall properly). So, with 13 songs and nearly double the running time, Sitting Army is the ultimate test to see if Cobra Skulls are enjoyable in large doses or if they're better kept to short bursts maybe once a week (and whenever the CW picks them up for reruns).

The first thing I noticed about the album is the juxtaposition of the first track compared to that of their last release, Draw Muhammad. While Draw Muhammad was kicked off by the fast, short and in-your-face "Ode to Jefferson" (blistering out "I don't fuck with your bible / don't fuck with my constitution"), Sitting Army starts with the much more developed "Cobra Skullifornia," a track that is purely instrumental for almost the whole first minute (near the entire length of "Ode to Jefferson"). When the song finally kicks into gear you're greeted by the insightful yet amusing lyrics Devin has delivered in their previous efforts. Suddenly, halfway through the song you're jolted by something else unexpected: a fast and furious bass solo slamming into the closing verse. The reason why this song is so important is because it's pretty much the exact scale model of Sitting Army as a whole; it's still the same rocking Cobra Skulls you've loved all along, just fleshed out, with better and tighter musicianship.

I'm positive the album will draw the standard, lazy listener comparisons to Reinventing Axl Rose-era Against Me!, but one can quickly see that they pull from a wide variety of artists and style. Cobra Skulls feature a heavy dose of pop-punk in both their love of great melodies and rhyme schemes that make their songs ridiculously bouncy and fun. Additionally, some of Devin's lyrics seem to be be written by the ghost of the undead Jello Biafra. With lines like "The preacher talks like he's afraid of anybody gay, but loves man-whore in a motel room" you can almost imagine Jello's voice on the song "The Cobra and the Man-Whore." The broad range of influence does backfire slightly on "Cobra Skulls Graveyard," a song that (not coincidently) has moments where it seems like Devin is giving his best Glenn Danzig. Though the song isn't bad, the drawn out chorus line of "So don't put me in a grave," done in a lower vocal tone than most of the album, seems out of place. Other than that slightly odd moment, you're not going to find a single clunker on this album.

So is the world ready for a Cobra Skulls full-length? That remains to be seen. But, it's clear that these guys have done more than simply stretch out their previous efforts -- they've managed to take a sound that only occupied splits and EPs and evolve it into longer songs that can fill an entire album in 13 tracks. More impressively, they've managed to do it without losing any of the bite (cobra pun not intended) that made their prior work so outstanding. If that doesn't hook you, song topics ranging from man-whores, religion, stem cell research, women and the commercialization of Ché Guevara might.

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