Review Round Up #85

PlugInMusic.com's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews. This edition includes Black Cobra's "Chronomega," Reflector's "Pass," Incoming Cerebral Overdrive's "Controverso," A Storm of Light's "Forgive Us Our Trespasses," and Nihill's "Grond."

Chronomega

Black Cobra
“Chronomega”
(Southern Lord 2009)

And the Matt Pike Riff Award goes to...Black Cobra's Jason Landrian. This San Fran duo pick up where 2007's "Feather and Stone" left off, getting their High on Fire/early Mastodon game on with all the abandon and brute force of a charging, methed-out bull. The drums provide a thunderous spine, and the guitar here is just oppressive; while speedy and fierce, it blankets the whole album in a thick haze of amplifier smoke. A good album, but it's a bit too same-ish to leave too much of an impression.

Sounds Like: A sludgy, stonery mixture with more aggression than ambition

Key Tracks: "Nefarian Triangle"

B
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Pass

Reflector
“Pass”
(Noise Appeal Records 2009)

While many guitar/drum duos suffer from a lack of meat on the bones, this certainly doesn't apply to Reflector. The long-running twosome's newest offering is a fat piece of doom-tinged noise rock dripping with ample amounts of sludge and hard-edged melody. Reflector excels in an area where many other like-minded bands stumble: dynamics. Keeping locked into a riff or groove for only as long as the song demands, these guys know when to pull out and slap a good headbanging riff on top of the slower, moodier passages.

Sounds Like: Weighty sludge/doom/noise that's deceptively light on members

Key Tracks: "Don G.," "Keep Your Heart Out"

A-
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Controverso

Incoming Cerebral Overdrive
“Controverso”
(Supernatural Cat 2009)

An Italian strain of math/metalcore with serious shades of Botch and the Dillinger Escape Plan, Incoming Cerebral Overdrive are at once more goofy and more focused than just about every stateside band of their ilk. They've got ridiculousness like baby noises and bad synths mixed into the usual craziness, but it's infrequent enough not to be distracting. When ICO do get down to getting down, they can be just as sharp as any band that plays with off-time fretboard fireworks, as the pulsing, nearly swing-like stutter at the end of "Science" more than demonstrates.

Sounds Like: Mathcore original enough to warrant a listen

Key Tracks: "Science"

B+
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Forgive Us Our Trespasses

A Storm Of Light
“Forgive Us Our Trespasses”
(Neurot Recordings 2009)

The follow-up to 2008's "And We Wept the Black Ocean Within," this second offering from the Josh Graham-led collective is both more expansive and dynamic than its predecessor. "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" is oppressive doomy sludge with somber interludes that allow the album to breathe. Tastefully added effects, ghostly female vocals courtesy of Jarboe, and some spoken word passages from Lydia Lunch add to the album's unsettling vibe. This may not be the most captivating music to listen to in a live setting (trust me), but "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" is an engrossing recorded experience.

Sounds Like: A bleak journey through sludgy post-apocalyptic landscapes

Key Tracks: "Trouble is Near," "Omega"

B+
buy it!
Grond

Nihill
“Grond”
(Hydra Head 2009)

The second in a supposed trilogy, "Grond" finds Norway's Nihill once again playing the atmospheric black metal card. There's a lot to like on here: the vocals that sound like a more phlegm-y Abbath, the filth-coated production that allows subtleties to creep to the surface of the music, the violent riff storms that blister, grate and peel. Unfortunately, Nihill stumble into the pitfalls inherent in this particular type of playground. Every song is over ten minutes long, and without much variation within each, they're too long by at least half that. If the more ambient passages were worked in better, it would have done wonders to break up what is a decent, if somewhat monotonous, listen.

Sounds Like: Frosty excursion into black metal's more hypnotic territory

Key Tracks: "Aard"

B-
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