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Friday, April 06, 2012

2012 Just MIGHT Be the Year of the Cobra

The Spittin' Cobras - Year of the Cobra
2012 Omega Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Seattle might be considered the doldums capital of the United States, but someone forgot to tell Jules Hodgson that. When he's not shredding for Sascha Konietzko and co-producing KMFDM, Hodgson has an outlet where he can turn his wolves loose. In Seattle, he and The Spittin' Cobras are catching on in a big way. Even The Reverend Horton Heat's taken notice by offering this band some opening gigs. God help those folks coming to those shows, because the Psychobilly Freakout will actually need to compete with his warm-up. Yeah, I'm saying it--and I love the Rev with all my heart--because The Spittin' Cobras are that awesome.

The underhanded problem with metal and hard rock today is the high expectancy heaped its upon artists. It's not enough anymore to just kick ass, which was the founding principle of seventies and eighties-based hard rock and metal. The genres have been escalated to such proficiency levels one almost needs to bring a Juliard degree to the table, thus scrutiny becomes automatic. If you have a metallic sound at all to your vibe, you're under the gun to write progressions of such complexity you'll be a zero or a hero in nanoseconds depending on your pedigree.

That's fine, but seriously, what the hell is wrong with just plugging in and going balls-out with everything you have? What's wrong with stirring your loins to the point of lust behind your instruments and letting that tension sieve out through straightforward, cocks-up belligerence? Rock and roll in the beginning was partially an act of rebellion and partially an act of autoeroticism. This applies to both performers and listeners. Somewhere in today's rock and metal manual, however, that element has been skipped over if not obliquely omitted. The core sentiment of heavy music, people, is to rock.

With lead vocalist Alx Karchevsky bearing shades of Bon Scott (minus the latter's Aussie horndog pub drawl) and a collective dead-eyed focus upon blasting eardrums out with old-fashioned thrash and bar rock, The Spittin' Cobras deliver one of the coolest and loudest albums in quite some time. Year of the Cobra is unpretentious, it's boisterous, it's fast as hell, even at mid-tempo. Nine songs of ass-kicking mania, including a rowdy cover of Rainbow's "Long Live Rock 'n Roll," and the cover is just a well-met decoration, really.

Year of the Cobra is headbanging heaven, just from the blistering mosh rhythms of "Built For Speed," "10,000 Broken Bodies" and "Criminal Mastermind," three of the giddiest thrashfests you'll enjoy in 2012. For certain, Jules Hodgson brings some of KMFDM's faster elements into play on these songs, yet they're still grounded in Van Halen, Motorhead, Nashville Pussy and Rose Tattoo. Hodgson is a freaking maniac all over "Criminal Mastermind," torching both the top and bottom straits of the track. It's hard not to sink into this stuff while going berserk from "Criminal Mastermind's" furious charge.

L.A. Guns at their most menacing is reflected all over "Throw Your Horns," a song that deserves a pump from the fans. Guaranteed The Spittin' Cobras won't have to shamelessly ply and beg for horns from their audiences like everyone else does. It will be a reflexive act because this tune peels the paint along with "Coup D'Etat," "Hooker With a Heart of Gold" and the boomming lead cut, "All the Way." The Spittin' Cobras have not only given Chrome Division a run for the money in the alter-ego throwback sweepstakes; they zip down the final stretch for a hefty win.

Alx Karchevsky threatens to take his listeners all the way and subsequently blow them gone on "All the Way." There was a time when such poser bravado was considered cheesy. Out of this guy's wrangling pipes and backed up by three other men who obviously hold four beers worth of piss inside them whenever they play, there's genuine moxy to such a claim. Indeed, The Spittin' Cobras will blow you away.

So if you're just a bit hung over on tech metal, death metal and black metal, take a break for a moment and step up to Year of the Cobra. Take Alx's invitation to have another beer and have another whiskey while "Last Chance Saloon" spins. It's worth the dumbing down from whatever you're listening to right now. This album will remind you why you got into heavy music in the first place.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with everything here. This album reaffirmed my faith in Rock & Roll. It's solid. And the guys are totally down to earth. Easily one of my Top 5 favorite bands out there. Excellent review!

Anonymous said...

Easily the best hard rock album to come out in decades.
And live? The most energetic punk and roll show you'll ever see. The singer hangs upside down from the lighting rig and surfs and headbangs with and in the audience and the rest of the guys nail it every time - Go see these guys! It's a lesson in how rock is supposed to be done!!!
Catch them whist they're still at a relatively small level cos it's only a matter of time before these guys are selling out arenas!!!

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Thank you both! I'll definitely make the time to catch them if they come around my parts. The energy of the music alone is worth the trip. All those extracurriculars sounds like legendary stuff in the making.