(Andy Synn reviews the first and only album by Norway’s Cobolt 60 — who now have a new album in the works for the first time in 10 years.)
Cobolt 60 is another project from Daniel Olaisen, AKA Død, also of Blood Red Throne, which sees him teaming up with original BRT vocalist Mr Hustler (handling both drums and vocals) with the sole aim of tearing the world a new one with a vicious brand of industrial-strength blackened thrash. The fruit of their unholy labours was the album Meat Hook Ballet, which whipped up a storm of controversy and critical acclaim, before the project was put on hold due to the increasing pressures and responsibilities of the pair’s regular endeavours.
Although Cobolt 60 actually predates Olaisen’s other endeavours, and the group has been inactive for over 10 years now, recently something has been stirring in its shallow, unmarked grave…
Thus it seems a perfect time as any to go back and inflict upon you all the chainsaw black thrash of their debut.
Right from the outset, the record pulls no punches, the menacing introductory bars of “Chainsaw Michaelangelo” finally exploding into a display of berserk aggression and air-tight guitar work. Revving and roaring as it bursts out of the gate, one thing that immediately sets the band apart from their thrashy-peers is their mechanical, almost industrial, guitar tone, one that is reminiscent of Zyklon’s trilogy of terror (for further comparisons in sound see The Wretched End) and makes each song grind and piston with atomic fury. Choppy, machine-gun riffage strafes the listeners, softening them up for the air-raid assault of warp-speed blasting and serrated tremolo guitars that pitch the track into full on extreme-territory.
“The Explorer” errs more on the death-thrash side of the fence without abandoning its black metal roots, Mr Hustler’s sickening rasp overlaying a crushing rhythmic attack of down-picked chuggery which pummels with hammer-blows of calculated lethality, aided and abetted in this criminal endeavour by an undercurrent of clean-picked, pulsating malevolence. A sadistic compulsion drives the song to return again and again to its suicidal main theme riff, a groaning, narcotic riff that staggers and swaggers between interludes of sandblasting drums, culminating in a colossal stomping finale.
“Night Stalker” redresses the balance, employing a distinctly more blackened approach, doom-laden chord progressions and obsidian keyboard melodies reminiscent of early Emperor and Dimmu Borgir weaving dark storm clouds of evil intent, haunted by stalking shadows of harsh, demonic vocals, pierced by lightning bolts of blazing blast beats and crackling, electrified guitar lines. The rolling, apocalyptic chorus sees the band cut and run, abandoning all notions of subtlety in an all-out slash and burn assault of feral vocals and stumbling, clattering drums, constantly on the edge of collapse.
The album dips into more vicious, misogynistic waters with the ugly, punked-up nastiness of “Daddy Dearest”, a display of crawling, Darkthrone-influenced sickness and depravity, with a creepy, infectious chorus and a taste for twisted melody. There’s a relentless psycho-sexual aggression to be found in the direct simplicity of the song’s thrusting, propulsive verses, and a horrifying realisation of remorseless intent in its itchingly infectious chorus refrain. The final strokes of the song see blazing drums building faster and faster toward climax in a frenzy of rapacious brutality, before finally collapsing in a crimson heap of fucked-out, bloodstained ferocity.
The ringing dissonance that introduces “One To Go” soon resolves into a raging downpour of pounding, torrential drums and scathing guitars, raining fire and brimstone as the vocals intone a litany of hatred and violence like some demented, mad prophet. Ringing keyboard lines add a sense of shimmering, ebon darkness to the track, which contrasts with the mid-song shift toward more grating, thrash-fueled dynamism where the weaving interplay between rumbling bass and scything guitars is accented by an assault of slippery, slap-shot drum beats.
Thrashing and crunching right from the start, “Salvation Principle Result” is built like a tank, an iron-clad war machine of ballistic riffage, stomping drums bringing hammer to anvil again and again, forging a crushing groove of irresistible momentum. Mortar-round bursts of heavy picking and scattershot snare-blasts keep the listener pinned in place, as the band line up each victim squarely in their sights, delivering the kill-shot with coils of pitch-black melody and barbed, flesh-rending hooks. Yet they also know when to shift the dynamic, switching their fighting stance from a straight-up brawling thrash attack to a controlled and sustained barrage of death-metal curb stomps and merciless black metal stabs of sharpened aggression.
The title track has an icy-cold black metal demeanour, winding keys conjuring a frost-bitten atmosphere of blizzard winds and permafrost shadows, concealing a gleaming metal predator of steel teeth and razor-claws. The cracked and wounded vocals hiss and rasp like a thing possessed, the monstrous voice of a piston-powered, titanium-shelled killing machine. The riffs are fanged and sharp, while every galloping kick pattern and vicious flurry of snare-blasts breaks bones and bursts open fragile flesh to feed on what spews forth.
The subtle menace of final track “Incineration (The Apical of Fire)” is enhanced by its bleak acoustic opening, evil melodic tones picked out on a lone acoustic guitar while a solitary bell tolls a death knell in the background. A callous, slithering black metal chord progression bleeds pure evil before the track kicks in with a stomping, bone-grinding groove. Diesel-powered and snorting sulfur, the drums explode in spasms of hyper-speed blasting with whiplash-inducing fury, guitars crackling with searing electricity, beneath which the bass rumbles with malevolent intent. The track marches relentlessly toward its ultimate conclusion with a brooding, martial riff and eerie, ethereal keyboards, twining around one another while the drums grind away at a masochistic, crawling pace, like a boot stamping upon a human face with remorseless, callous precision.
Recently my sources have informed me that two suspicious characters, identified as Daniel Olaisen and Flemming Arnesen-Gluch (AKA “Mr Hustler”), have been seen loitering in the dive bars and graveyards of metal’s dark city streets, shovels and picks in hand, covered in blood and grinning with psychotic glee. Like every good slasher, Cobalt 60 have risen from the grave, about to start a whole new killing spree.
Cobolt 60 have recently announced that they have signed a full-length album deal with Norwegian underground label Duplicate Records and will be making their return to live action at the Southern Discomfort metal festival in Kristiansand, Norway in September.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The photo at the top of this post is the poster for the first and only gig played by Cobolt 60 to date. A handful of Meat Hook Ballet CDs still exist and are being sold here. Here are a couple of gems from Meat Hook Ballet:
“Chainsaw Michelangelo”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/01.-Cobolt-60-Chainsaw-Michelangelo.mp3|titles=Cobolt 60-Chainsaw Michelangelo]
“Salvation Principle Result”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/06.-Cobolt-60-Salvation-Principle-Result.mp3|titles=Cobolt 60-Salvation Principle Result]
The band are also streaming two new songs — “The Grim Defiance” and “Radiant Animosity Towards the Flesh” — on their Facebook band page.