This year has been a bit of a whirlwind for me as far as reviewing goes. I have two gigs, one of which I only took in May – that being this gig here – and I have just spent two months or so with a painful ear infection which endowed my left ear with the same powers as my right eye: that of existence without purpose. Add to this a study for my college’s Zoology department and the Utah DNR, classes and a job substitute teaching …well, shit is time consuming, as you might imagine.
So my ability to peruse all the available metal this year has been limited. And for the ten years that has elapsed since my previous gig here I have been clinging to the bands I knew I could trust to the exclusion of all else. So Nile, Pig Destroyer, Napalm Death et al.
All the above is to hopefully explain why currently just about everything I hear is fucking amazing. I have not reviewed what I would consider a bad record in the six months I have been reviewing for Last Rites. Some have left me less dazzled than others, but they are all damned good in their own way. Is this because I have just been out of the game or because we are in a golden age of metal? I don’t honestly know.
And now I have to review Cognitive and am faced with yet another good record. In fact, the question is not whether this album is fantastic, but rather whether it is fantastic enough to compare with all the other fantastic records I have heard this year? Not to even mention those I haven’t heard.
It compares well. Tech death, slightly Wormed-meets-Cannibal Corpse in its frenzied compositions and frantic execution, this is an exciting listen. Tempo changes, oddness and crushing heft spill from every song. But does it set itself apart from its peers? Sometimes.
Opener “Birthing the Deformity” sets up the rest of the record. Sprinting, then marching, then creeping, then sprinting some more, the tempos give the listener just enough foundation to acquire some affinity before bouncing into another gait. “Beneath the Floorboards” plays the bone cracking grooves for all they are worth, creating a classic feeling mosher that expands into a modern brutal deather without your even noticing.
Each track seems to have its own special moments where the band consciously tries to smash you open and dance in your organs. “The Cull” stops, gives you a moment, then drags you across a concrete floor and into a room full of slow beatings. Then “Wraiths” sets on a jigsaw and carves you into a puzzle no one wants to solve. The groove sounds for all the world like the band shaking your viscera from their hands before getting back to work. Finally, “Merciless Forest” shuffles your pieces out back and feeds you to the pigs, who snarf you down with a relentless rhythm. Bye, kid.
Performances are on par with any band that chooses to play this style of frenetic death. The lead work excels, the vocals dwell generally in the low-roar range, but can get down to ugly pig squealing now and then. The bass is delightfully present in the mix, and adds dimension and depth to the band’s tone and texture. The drums are punchy, the kicks maybe having a little trigger feel to them, but that’s OK by me. The production is, in other words, satisfying.
I find no fault in this record. I find a great deal of value and excitement in it. I can’t say it rises above other great releases of the same nature I have heard this year, but I can say it stands equally with most of them. I would definitely recommend this album to techy death heads and metal fans in general.