Album Review: Obey Cobra – Oblong

Majestic – like a Cleopatra style funeral cortege, burnished gold frontispieces dazzling in the sun as a cast of thousands slowly proceed towards their doom, incarcerated in a pyramid shaped tomb forever, while a chorus of angels lament their passing…and that’s just the first song!

Obey Cobra are a six piece who hail from Cardiff and they make a glorious noise. They are indeed mighty, monolithic and majestic. They summon demons from hell, all screaming and writhing in agony and ecstasy, and they call down a choir of seraphim to light this unholy arena. They have the light and shade of Mogwai and the swagger of the Velvet Underground.

The album’s opener “OK Ultra” really is a bold statement. It’s huge and slow like a glacier, enormously pushing everything in its path down and down as it imperceptibly crushes your puny human resistance. Take that, mortal. Suitably pliant you cannot but marvel at its glorious majesty and leave yourself wide open for whatever comes next, and that is “Capita”, a big horrendous screaming beast of descending chords a la “Interstellar Overdrive”, as played by Black Sabbath and My Bloody Valentine…mangled to the extreme. “Sunflowers” lets a bit of air in, coming on like a velvet Nico getting high with Jennifer Herrema. “Sophia Can’t Walk” reminds me of Telstar Ponies with its scuzzy motorik beat and spoken/shouted word stories, possibly involving an AI robot, which has a trance-like effect on the listener, entering the brain and rolling around and around, mesmerizing and echoing off the skull.

“Intermission” isn’t really. After the noodling saxophone it’s a thrashing psychedelic Doremi period Hawkwind song with strident crashing electric guitar chords to boot. Dark menacing deep plucking guitar strings open “Wunsch” which slowly fade in on an improvised vocal like Nico jamming with Sunn O, or the more menacing end of Big Blood’s output, whilst “Dim Beak” a massive slow thrash of a song, like doom, drone and/or sludge metal, beats out its crashing waves of  destruction to the accompaniment of, at first, ethereal ghostly laments, then ungodly screams, like a demon from hell has been sent with an important message for you but can’t express it in mere words. Despite its relative quiet “Beyond The Wall Of Sleep” offers no respite. It is ghostly and sick and creepy…and wonderful too. Genuinely gorgeous, like being serenaded by the spirits at the end of Indiana Jones (the first film), or like being nibbled on by the Lamia. You’ll probably never be the same again. “Crinkle” ends this glorious album, with really the first signs of the electronic element that you find in press descriptions of the band, a pulsing Faust like synth joined by gothic vocals and 80’s drums, accompanied by what sounds to me like a dog barking. Reminds me of something from the first Pivot album, but looser. The overly distorted synth gives it a dreamy feel and the squawky sax playing is straight out of The Residents early experiments.

This is a fantastic album, and a debut one at that. The band have taken in styles and musical branches from the outer reaches and regurgitated them, spattering them like a vomiting Jackson Pollock all over the (pink) vinyl grooves, or even your silver spinning disc, drawing from every quarter and bringing you something raw, exciting, doom laden and fresh. They somehow stir the pot and elevate the ingredients into something new, and you’ll love it.

Oblong is out now on Box Records, order on vinyl or digital download via Bandcamp

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Review by Andrew Wood

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