(We present Todd Manning‘s review of the 2016 self-titled debut EP of Texas-based Cognizant, which was given a proper CD release by Selfmadegod Records on November 13th.)
When it comes to Grindcore, there’s always been a split, with some bands falling on the Metal side of the fence while others are more firmly rooted in Hardcore, though even more have staked out their territory somewhere smack in the middle. In the case of Dallas-based five-piece Cognizant, they easily emerge from the fetid swamp of Death Metal and their debut self-titled record, re-released courtesy of Selfmadegod Records, shows why they have become a force to be reckoned with.
In 1997, Floridians Assück dropped one of the best Grind records of all time with Misery Index, and they too were heavily indebted to Death Metal (in their case it was the almighty Suffocation). Cognizant looks to Gorguts for much of their Death Metal influence, and this leads their particular brand of blasting a much more complex and abstract edge. But do not mistake this abstractness for a lack of impact, because this is a paint-peeling assault from start to finish.
“Hyper-Dimensional Inflation” combines the DNA of Napalm Death and Suffocation initially, but as the song progresses they slip in a bit more of angular guitar dysfunction between each flurry of blast beats. This quick burner is followed up by “Solipsism”, which interjects more mind-bending time signatures into the mix. This song slows down a bit near the end and finds some of that Gorguts-inspired arpeggio guitar work that really pushes this affair into newer territory for a Grind band.
At this point, the chains are off and Cognizant begin to really bring on the mind-fuckery. “Oppression” hints at Deathspell with its neck-snapping and unpredictable drumwork. Each track seems to mine more and more technical material without ever letting up from the extreme tempos. “Adrift” utilizes the aforementioned arpeggiated guitar riffs, but now places them beneath Grind beats from the drums. “Entropy” slows down just a bit but the weirdness is present in spades. “Myopic” is similar, but with more of a Voivod flare. It too does eventually find it’s way to an uncompromising blast beat.
The EP closes with the one-two punch of “Penumbra” and “Dichotomy”. Here the marriage of speed and complexity reaches its apex, both elements combined flawlessly. The former is pure Gorguts on cocaine, while the latter is a mix of Napalm Death and Discordance Axis, angular and feral, a pure bludgeoning achieved in less than a minute and a half.
This debut clocks in right around the seventeen-minute mark, which is the perfect length for this type of material. There is so much information to absorb in the short runtime that the listener will have plenty to pour over for a long time to come. Since this release Cognizant have put out a single and a couple of splits that I need to catch up to, but any attempts to put out something longer in the future will have to walk a fine line between achieving the immediacy of Grindcore with the kind of variation necessary to make a longer release listenable. I for one will be anxious to see how they might pull that off, and in the meantime, this self-titled release will stoke my imagination for what is to come.