Cobalt’s Gin is an explosive, adrenaline-filled, love letter to metal music and an instantly recognizable golden standard in musical production and the true abrasive nature of musical ability. With only two members, Cobalt quickly rushes onto the scene and makes their appearance more grand than a thousand red carpets, more influential than fifty spoken word poets, and a beautiful dedication to both, the late Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson.
Erik Wunder and Phil McSorley are the creative brains behind Cobalt, and to say creative would be an understatement. Cobalt is sporadic in a sense, maniacal in another, but gorgeous in other stages. Gin follows a loose adaptation of a structure that flexes and bends between outrageous subsections of hardcore elements, and music that features screams, constant assaults from the percussion, and guitars that sound horrific in the way that they growl and hiss like an untamed animal. The other portions of Gin are much easier to handle and while still managing to keep a discreet undertone of cult-esque chanting or atmospheric playing, Cobalt stands tall as a monument for experimentation and for creating a gruff, but polished sound with Gin. The twisting and contortioned child that springs from Cobalt is aggressive and comes off to be exactly what a war both externally, and internally would embody. It is incredible to hear a pounding of tribal sounding drums, to then shift into soft, but echoing vocals of subtle cries for help. Gin is a constant reminder of how music can shift both tone, and thought within the listener and stay consistent throughout the near hour of resonating and pronounced sound.
There is a certain ambience behind Cobalt’s personal sound, their noise derives itself from a place of pure ugliness, confusion, and the darkness that weighs like cinderblocks on both the physical and mental wellness of a person’s personal journey. With Phil McSorley shouting desperately into a void with lyrics of bitter anguish and animalistic nature; the following track “Stomach” is a prime example of both McSorley and Wunder becoming animals in their craft both lyrically and musically. McSorley and Wunder begin, “His eyes are lost, and his form is gone. His time was up and he lies in the fields, in the banks of rivers and on the edges. What I’ve seen you won’t see, urge to kill and love and hold and smash”. To read through the thought process of the musicians on Gin is almost churning to the stomach and even with the sections of instrumentals, Cobalt is still a reckoning force of nature that smashes everything held within a blast radius of their overbearing, daunting, and near-frightening sound.
Through the motions of the horrific, Cobalt pushes on through a journey of memoirs and shattered pieces of what seem like a distant enigma within themselves. Gin is a place of incredibly personal themes and of overstating abrasiveness, but also a call to subtly and to instinctive ability. With the track, “Two-Thumbed Fist” for an example; Cobalt rushes through the nine-minute journey with an unrelenting force of bass and guitar that shakes the Earth, becoming a golden standard for Cobalt. There is then the following track, “A Starved Horror” which still shouts and makes a presences known, but it does so in a slower, more melodic manner. “A Starved Horror” builds up to the abrasiveness and takes the gentle road to a screaming match within itself. The guitar work from Wunder is a shining example of simplicity against the grain of melodic nature. He works fruitfully and grasps the listener with cold hands, but the hands continue to shine a symptom of life.
Gin is a textbook example of experimental metal that takes a turn for complexity and powerful prowess. Cobalt spares no expense with leaving stones unturned, with leaving a single track without a substantial end, and an ugly solution to an ugly situation. The use of wicked guitar and deadly percussion is a must-have for Gin and the style of lyricism combined with the inner demons of both Hemingway and Thompson make for an engaging display of both fire and brimstone.