NPR logo Viking's Choice: Cobalt, 'Beast Whip'

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Viking's Choice: Cobalt, 'Beast Whip'

Cobalt. Robin Norman/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Robin Norman/Courtesy of the artist

Cobalt.

Robin Norman/Courtesy of the artist

It's been seven years since the release of Cobalt's Gin, a masterful metal album that's savage in its bleakness and made distinct by the warped, inventive work of multi-instrumentalist Erik Wunder. In the time since, Wunder has been busy with his fuzzy Americana act Man's Gin and touring in Jarboe's live band, but Cobalt is a pillar of American extreme metal — and deserving of more devastation. Slow Forever marks the return with a double-length running time and the addition of vocalist Charlie Fell. Here's the colossal "Beast Whip."

After two minutes of a frenetic, Middle Eastern-inspired melody, Fell serves notice that Cobalt is still all raw impulse and animal instinct, as he shrieks, "Pity for the hardened screaming end of life." Following the ugly departure of longtime vocalist Phil McSorely, Fell (a former member of Lord Mantis) isn't without baggage, either. Chaos begets chaos, perhaps, but Fell is up to the task vocally, as his blood-curdling croak clashes against Wunder's monumental cathedral of buzzing thrash. "Beast Whip" ultimately turns its leather tails into a stoner-metal groove, at which point Fell reaches into the depths of his throat to threaten, "The pigs run wild."

Slow Forever comes out March 25 on Profound Lore.