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Album Review

by Cobra Khan

1157 Records

Review Date
1st December 2011
Reviewed by
Ricardo Kerr

Cobra Khan, the hard-hitting Auckland metal quartet, make one hell of a first impression. Their 2008 album Helgorithms made some serious waves up and down this country and has put them at the forefront of our heavy music scene ever since. Their second album Adversities, and the three years in between the two, has done nothing to slow down that momentum. From the very first notes you instinctively brace yourself for what is about to happen.

A majestic piece of music by the name of ‘Swan Rider’ swims into focus out from under a curtain of heavy chords. It is distorted, angular, and serene all at once. It is the prologue to Adversities and it is the long deep breath you take before diving headfirst into the action. When the marching drum beats kicks in and is backed up by the commanding bark of Milon Williams you know exactly where you are. Over the course of the album Cobra Khan reference classic 80’s thrash, modern hardcore, head-melting sludge metal and anything in between. The performances on the album are loud, urgent and moshpit ready.

What helps to give Cobra Khan their own distinct voice is their tasteful use of keyboards amidst all the mayhem, an instrument often seen as a faux pas in certain metal circles. If anything the keys (courtesy of Sarah Fox) feature more prominently here than they did on Cobra Khan’s previous releases. They flesh out some of the heavier-than-hell breakdowns and add texture to what could otherwise have been fairly standard riff fests.

Cobra Khan like their guitars to be thick, bleak, and belligerent an that is what you can expect. The songs are absolutely crammed full of them, like the brilliantly titled ‘Strung By Staves’ and the interlinking playing of guitarists Milon Williams and Hadleigh Donald make ‘Cellar Sleep’ a real highlight. Their hybrid mashup of guitar styles often recall genre heroes Alice in Chains and Killswitch Engage. ‘Borderlands’ mixes it up with haggard down-tuned riffs paired up with gothic overtones and a guest appearance from Sticky Filth’s Craig Redford. The album closes on a strong note with the one-two combo of ‘Lead Us’ and the aching beauty of ‘White Fire’.

Cobra Khan have made a career out of defying expectation. They have already set the bar high and it would have been easy to just churn out an album that does the job. Instead they laid themselves bare and have an album that aims for the heart and the throat. You are going to have plenty of opportunities to see these heavy metal troubadours on the road as they relentlessly tour their relentless sonic assault. Adversaries is a world-beating hard rocking thrill ride that is going to be hard to top in 2011.


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