Year of The Cobra - The Black Sun (EP) (2015)

In the world of heavy rock music, there are an unlimited number of configurations you could assemble and still call yourself a band. Interchanging bass for guitars, keyboards for vocals, the combinations are endless and exhausting. But the fewer the parts, the fewer options you have. For Year of The Cobra, a two piece from the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle, the choice was simple; drum and bass. In this instance, it doesn't represent the foundation for electronic music or EDM, but the rhythm section of every successful band, broken out into its own entity. While it might not be a new concept, it is one that is not always (read: rarely) executed with any true success, with many bands content to ride the gimmick farther than the music itself. But on The Black Sun, a three song EP, this iteration proves to do just the opposite.

The three songs presented here are varied in sound and delivery. The first, White Wizard, plays right into the Sabbath wheelhouse, darkly melodic and hazy. For female vocal, the result is strangely haunting and yet powerful. It's crisp, but howling, a deadly combination. What stands out is how well a drum and bass combo can craft this sound, without leaving a gaping hole in the mix. Even when the hit a grungy punk note, as they do in the uptempo The Black Sun, the sound is full and well rounded. It seems unlikely, still, that four strings of a bass can produce so much depth, and yet here they are, doing just that. You'll find chunks of the Seattle scene roaring through this three minute track, a welcomed bit of aggression and "fuck it" attitude that much music sorely lacks. But when the dust settles, it is undoubtedly Wasteland that will remain. Mesmerizing in its simplicity, chilling in its low end reliance, it's the diamond in a small collection of precious gems. Smooth at times, while boisterous at others, the song is masterful in the use of every second.

With other attempts at the guitar-free metal band, there have been far too many "look what we can do" moments, predicated on reminding the audience at every moment that four strings are all they need. Year of The Cobra don't need to remind anyone of what they're doing. They've let their music speak for itself. And, frankly, the way they play, the way they write and construct their songs, says more about their musical ability than anything else could. You won't wish for a guitar to crop up, deliver a solo, or even a power chord. Instead, you'll wonder how they made it sound so complete, so musically real without the single strum of a six string. And, at the same time, how they've done it so effortlessly. Take your guitar and go home, Iommi. There's no vacancy here.

8.5/10

Bandcamp - https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband