Invernal is the second full-length San Francisco, CA-based doom sludge duo Black Cobra have released with Southern Lord. The album was recorded with Kurt Ballou at God City Studio in Salem, MA, and the end result is a noisome, toothsome beast. Whereas some aggressive music is mechanical, like a demolition derby, Invernal is distinctly muscular. The sound evokes the aggression of gladiators battling, the threat of meat rather than metal.
While the composition is layered, complex and even chaotic, it is always highlighted beautifully. One element of the din is picked out more clearly, like a picture with one plane of depth in focus and the rest left to blur. This shifts over the course of each song. For example, the focus and clarity leap from the rough, throbbing bass riffs to the sparkle of the crash cymbals and back again in “Corrosion Fields.”
Another element that sets Invernal apart is its aural temperature. Much of sludge is associated with heat: liquid tar, bubbling pitch. Black Cobra have made something cold. The sound is thick and gelid, in the way that some liquids increase in viscosity before they freeze. Invernal is hypothermic, the only warmth drawn from vibrating guitar strings and body heat.
(Southern Lord Records)