Cobra Skulls - American Rubicon (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Cobra Skulls

American Rubicon (2009)

Red Scare

Cobra Skulls' second full-length for Red Scare, American Rubicon, finds the Reno, Nevada group taking chances, experimenting with their sound and succeeding greatly. Apart from their contribution to Suburban Home's Under the Influence 7" series and the three-song Never Be a Machine EP, this is their first major release in two years, and it seems they've been practicing.

For a band that plays primarily straightforward punk rock, it's surprising how good they are at actually playing their instruments. Devin Peralta in particular has become an absolute monster on bass. 2007's Sitting Army had some pretty sweet basslines, but American Rubicon features some of the finest punk rock bass playing since Rancid's And Out Come the Wolves. However, like all their releases, even though the majority of the proceedings are a punk rock affair, they do venture into various different genres, including rockabilly and folk.

As with all Cobra Skulls releases, Peralta's lyrics are a definite highlight. Here he tackles everything from the importance of public transportation ("Muniphobia"), overpopulation ("Overpopulated"), straight-edge thugs ("Bad Apples") and the uncertainty of direction in life ("One Day I'll Never"), each with style and skill. The Spanish lyrics fans have come to expect from past gems like "¡Hasta Los Cobra Skulls Siempre!" and "Use Your Cobra Skulls" return in "Thicker Than Water." Gone, however, is the use of the words Cobra and/or Skull in every song title, which the band addresses with the title of instrumental interlude "I Used to Like Them When They Put ‘Cobra' in the Titles."

Early in their career the group received comparisons to bands like Against Me! and the Dead Kennedys; on this record, it seems they've finally found their own distinctive sound (granted, "Timing" does recall early Against Me!). Cobra Skulls have unleashed a monster of a record with American Rubicon that has, at once, stayed true to the sound they established on their earlier releases and expanded into new territory which will garner them new fans.