(Austin Weber reviews the new self-titled release by Cognizant from Dallas, Texas)
The rise and growth of skronky death metal and über-dissonant black metal, influenced equally by the likes of groups such as Gorguts, Deathspell Omega, and legions more, has led to the emergence of some very interesting new groups. And of those influenced by these antecedents, the most under-appreciated seem to me to be the new wave of tech-grind groups who draw elements from both schools of thought and then bring it down into a tight and concise grind format.
Some of you may be aware of my rampant obsession with tech-grind of the skronky and dissonant kind, as reflected in my coverage of groups such as Dendritic Arbor, Blurring, Okazaki Fragments, Cave Moth, Crisis Actor, and Amygdala last year — who now have been re-named as Cognizant.
Like many seasoned grind freaks, making a racket no longer impresses me as blindly as it did when the genre’s forbearers were tearing it up. Given that the tech-grind wave of the early-to-mid 2000s came to an end, or at least experienced a down-tick, the recent up-tick in this new wave of technical, and some might say experimental/progressive grind, puts a big fucking smile on my face. If not leading the pack, Cognizant are among one of the best damn groups around playing within this new resurgence of what I like to call Intelli-grind bands.
When looking back at what I said about them last year as a refresher, a few things I wrote about them still hold true with their latest self-titled album, so I felt I’d share a bit of that. Mainly that “Cognizant sounds like what would happen if Baring Teeth played grindcore — wonky stuff that’s several cuts above typical grind,” and, “When you hear grind elevated to the artistic plateau that Amygdala (now Cognizant) reach, well, little else seems as impressive in comparison.” Nail meet head. I couldn’t re-hash the same sentiment I wrote to describe them again better myself.
But if anything, those two statements regarding Cognizant only apply even more this time around on their newly released self-titled full-length. It’s somehow an even more evolved beast musically, yet still just as savage and horrific as their prior offering found on 2015’s, EPiphany. To me, the band have found a way to create thinking man’s grind that draws from groups like Gorguts, Pyrrhon, and Artificial Brain and then compact that down into mini-maelstroms of contained yet memorable chaos. The entirety of Cognizant clocks in at just under 20 minutes, but ends up containing more ideas to explore within its depths than many bands accomplish in double that run-time or more.
No offense to Nails, but I’ll take groups like Cognizant over them any day (and praise this as higher art) when I need a sonic beatdown that’s swift yet sticks with you. The future is bleak, and its terrifying name is Cognizant. And I’m in love with it!