How Cobalt kept the extreme alive in their seven years away
Cobalt’s deviant, devastating take on black metal resulted in a landmark album, Gin, and a journey to the brink of self-destruction. Seven years later, they’re back and battle-scarred
While some black metal acts remain content to slather on corpsepaint, steal Darkthrone riffs and spout anti-Christian ideologies, Colorado’s Cobalt have always had towering ambitions for their chosen artform. On 2007’s Gin, the band’s unique vision finally came into focus when they used black metal’s incendiary foundations to fully integrate outlier musical and lyrical ideas – from progressive metal, Americana and red-hot sludge, to sourcing inspiration from Ernest Hemingway and the gonzo gut-punch of Hunter S Thompson – and in the process, they created a modern black metal masterwork.
“I knew that we were dealing with fire and that we had made something powerful and different,” says Cobalt multi-instrumentalist Erik Wunder, seven years on since Gin destroyed all remaining rigid perceptions of what constitutes ‘real black metal’. “I guess I was unsure how many people would actually pay attention to it. But the response was massive! It really resonated.”
For years Cobalt fans have been frothing at the mouth in anticipation of the band’s next album, but back in December 2014 their future was put into question when Erik fired vocalist Phil McSorley for posting homophobic and misogynistic rants online. Both musicians were lifelong friends and shared an electric chemistry, so the decision hit Cobalt’s sole composer hard.