No Mercy, No Surrender
Chicago metallers Sweet Cobra are a tough bunch. Despite losing guitarist/vocalist Mat Arluck to cancer late last year, the band has soldiered on as a trio and released their third album of punchy post-metal (and Arluck’s final recording), Mercy. While it’s not shaking the foundation of music, it’s doing everything right.
The record drives in with “Brux,” a fuzzy mid-tempo rocker that asserts the band’s trademark heavy-yet-pleasing, textural-yet-minimal, dichotomous sound. The title track follows close behind, with almost chorale-like vocal harmonies punctuated by buzzsaw guitars and pounding percussion. “Matriarch” features harmonized guitars and bassist/vocalist Botchy V’s raspy bellow, while “Reinhold London” is a swirling vortex of dissonant riffing and thrash-style drums and is really the only mosher on the record. “Wounded Parade” is a short burst showcasing Botchy V’s grinding bass, and the album closes out with “Sprague Dawley,” which leads the listener on a death march into a pleasant major chord.
The production here is what one would expect from the genre. The vocals are almost buried in the mix, but come forward at the right moments. The guitars are bright and crunchy, while the bass is overdriven and blended. The drums are focused while retaining that 70s “tubby” warmth, which is necessary here. And, like bands before them, Sweet Cobra forgoes dynamics for layers and texture. They pile on extra guitars with different timbres to project “loudness” and take them away for “softness,” and that’s exactly how it needed to be done here.
If post-metal heavy rock is your game, this is the place to get it. Mat Arluck may be gone, but his legacy will live on with Sweet Cobra. They may not be shattering preconceptions, but they know what they’re doing, and they know how to bring it to the masses.