Black Cobra: Imperium Simulacra

San Fran sci-fi riff technicians fail to forge into the future

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Coming five years after their last slab of landslide riffs and percussive battery, San Francisco power duo Black Cobra are finally back with a follow-up to 2011’s covertly sci- fi-themed Invernal.

Imperium Simulacra brings the duo’s sci-fi and tech proclivities to the fore, yet beyond some rather naff cover art (which looks like it should be adorning a collection of Fear Factory b-sides) and certain songtitles (which, Obsolete and Sentinel (Infinite Observer) in particular, read like the titles of a Fear Factory tribute album), this approach has not extended to a significant change on their musical direction.

And that, perhaps, is the problem with Imperium Simulacra. Opener Challenger Deep – full of Jason Landrian’s rolling, cascading riffs launched in a constant duel with the bouldering drum work of Rafa Martinez – could have been pulled from Invernal or even its predecessor Chronomega.

Elsewhere, limp production captures none of the band’s peerless live ferocity, and distorts tracks like the otherwise excellent and dynamic Dark Shine into a narrow muddle.