|Black Metal, Thrash Metal
September 14th, 2012
Release length: 37:01
At first, the audio quality to The Grim Defiance might surprise you, but given the style the band goes for, it really shouldn’t. This album has a very crisp sound that still manages to house a good deal of darkness similar to early second wave Black Metal acts, but a bit modern. The bass roars out of the mix quite well with a deep and loud presence that also has a bit of a twang at times. It works nicely with the distortion of the guitar that varies between a decent sharpness and a bit of a blunt Thrash approach that works with the crisp sound. The drums are fantastic with cymbals that come through perfectly and at just the right level, snares that sound tight but slightly muffled, and a booming yet mild click from the bass kicks that are podded up in a manner that demand your attention, are clearly audible through everything, but not too overbearing on the final product. The vocals are also at the right levels, utilizing a strong rhasp approach that works perfectly with the sinister material, and, in the case of “Radiant Animosity Towards the Flesh,” a little clean singing that isn’t the best, but gets the chanting point across for this track.
With a great sound to the album, it’s impossible to not expect the best from Cobolt 60. Thankfully, the deliver in many ways. This release is full of fantastic compositions, such as “Of Antipathy and Solitude,” a truly dark offering that feeds into the early Black Metal ways with a crushing performance that commands the listener’s obedience in the slower passages that will have you bobbing your head along to the rhythm, while the faster chorus and other quicker sectionshave the potential to ravage you with a fiery passion for their craft that can be felt through the energy captured in the mix thanks to that crisp audio quality. This better establishes what the listener should expect from the group on this recording than the title track, “The Grim Defiance,” but that start isn’t too bad either. The drumming really stands out, establishing the rhythm quite well while the guitars hold a sharper distortion outside of the blast beat sections that pop up periodically. While not your standard Metal by numbers scenario, it does feel a bit on the traditional side, and won’t really inspire an awe from the listener. But, then there’s “Sort,” a much more furious track with a bit of a modern presence behind it. Two-step drumming is utilized in the mid-tempo and slow-paced areas that are placedf sparingly. The lead chords set up a truly haunting atmosphere when used, but, for the most part, it becomes a ritualistic assault thanks to the vocals and how they work with the machine gun blasting of the drum kit.
While those stricter Black Metal offerings can sound great, there’s no denying the aggression that backs the Thrash Metal fueled cuts can be far more relentless. “Hammer the Creationist” just pounds away at the listener with sharper, tighter riffs at a quicker pace that doesn’t require blast beats to push the intensity through. There are subtle grim areas in bridges, such as around the half-way point, but never get in the way of the more complex material, and the energy is a lot more obvious here, as well as with the others like it, making a tense and mosh pit worthy track anyone listening with let loose with. “You Are, Therefore You Die” is easily the most infectious song off the recording, and makes for the perfect conclusion to The Grim Defiance. It shows a superb mixture of Black Metal foundations with catchy Thrash riffs, holding a strong groove that makes banging your head along to the mid-tempo areas a mandate, and doing so even harder during the more modern blast beat fueled passages. The transitions in and out work superbly, and help to make it both a brutalizing, as well as grim and sinister offering that will stay lodged your head for a long time to come.
And that about sums up the album as well. The Grim Defiance by Cobolt 60 may not exactly have been worth a ten year wait, but easily becomes one of most important Black Metal releases of 2012. There’s no denying it’s a quality release that fans of well executed amd refined Black Metal are simply going to eat up. This early second wave album doesn’t bring the permafrost with it, but instead establishes a grim and hostile environment with the aid of some modern tactics and Thrash Metal intensity. The styles mesh together seamlessly, making this a breath of fresh air for those drowning in the sea of raw or blast beat only third generation bands of this approach. With every song commanding your head to bang along, and many that will remain with your for days if not longer, you’ll find The Grim Defiance stuck in your media player for quite a while, taking comfort in the knowledge that the ten year hiatus has not hindered Cobolt 60 at all.
01. The Grim Defiance – 4:16
02. Of Antipathy and Solitude – 4:50
03. Hammer the Creationist – 4:13
04. The Return of Theia – 5:38
05. Sort – 3:19
06. Radiant Animosity Towards the Flesh – 4:56
07. Beinkald – 4:43
08. You Are, Therefore You Die – 5:06
|Overall Score: 9/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Demonhood Productions.