Life is full of surprises, that’s for sure.
Take, for example, Cobalt. If you had told me years ago I would like black metal, I’d have told you you were crazy. Had you told me that an American black metal band would become my ultimate go-to music? Even more crazy.
But that’s what Cobalt is. See, sometimes I get in a rut. I want to listen to music, but nothing seems to grab me. I try new songs, old songs, wander through just about every genre without finding something that I want to stick with. For someone who loves music as much as I do, it becomes an increasingly frustrating endeavor. I get cranky, and it starts to really drive me crazy.
Then I’ll turn on some Cobalt. Doesn’t really matter which album. Could be their breakthrough, Eater of Birds, perhaps their subsequent triumph Gin, or just as often, their amazing return to the music scene, 2016s Slow Forever. And every single time, I’m instantly out of my musical rut. Suddenly, I find joy in music once again. The craziest part of all of this? I couldn’t even tell you why. There is just something visceral about Cobalt that clicks with me, and draws me in immediately.
Slow Forever was my first introduction to Cobalt. Basically a two man band, with all the instruments manned by Eric Wunder, with Charlie Fell helming the mic (having replaced Phil McSorley after some internal band issues). That this really is just two men is astonishing, and the last thing I would have expected given just how powerful the album is.
Slow Forever is an evolution of the black metal found on the previous albums. It is less raw, and actually has an incredibly crisp production that makes the instruments, particularly the drums just pop. In fact, I’m not entirely sure I’d continue to call Slow Forever black metal. At the same time, I don’t know what I’d call it instead. There are elements of punk, hardcore, crust, hard rock, and country. Yes, even country.
Cobalt’s music is just raw, no matter how sharp the production is. The vocals still carry with them that harsh, almost shriek, even with a different vocalist. Instrumentally, this is just filthy, nasty metal, in the very best ways possible. The guitars have a “dirtiness” to their sound. I don’t really know how else to describe them. Many songs are long, the album itself is 1 hour and 24 minutes (with the bonus track “Siege” which is an awesome song). This album is a journey.
There is also something uniquely American about Slow Forever. It has the identity of the west baked into the music. There is a rebelliousness, a celebration of individuality, and also an acknowledgment that things just might be a little effed up. That leads to a powerful authenticity to the music. It is both contemplative at times, and yet just straight up brutal and in your face at others.
Slow Forever is a band that realizes that we just might actually be up shit creek, and they are making sure they scream this loud and clear for all to hear. There aren’t solutions offered here, that isn’t the intent. But Slow Forever is a brilliant, visceral, and raw anthem that wouldn’t be out of place while we burn things to the ground with the hopes of starting over.