Released: 2000, n/a
This is the coolest thing I have seen in a long, long time. Cobra based in the UK has come up with an elaborate concept album and package that entertains on many levels, musically, lyrically and visually.
Normally I don’t quote verbatim from CD’s but the introductory statement describes the scenario more eloquently than I ever could. It reads as follows…” In 1972 COBRA were returning from a successful concert when, from out of the limousine window, they saw a bright light. The band was transported up into an alien spaceship and abducted. The car was returned to Earth and destroyed to make it look like an accident. Years passed and the band was all but forgotten about except by their most ardent fans. Suddenly COBRA were back as if nothing had happened, but things were not the same. The band had been given superpowers by the aliens that had kept them for so long. Now, back on planet Earth COBRA vowed that they would rid the world of all evil and bring justice back to honest folk. This CD represents the story of the bands journey told in musical form.”
Way cool. I like fantasy in my metal; it is a nice change from the supposedly “realistic” whining and bitching of the mall-core bands. The lyrics are rooted more in metaphor and analogies of life’s journeys and re-integration into society rather than “The guitarists has super-strength and beats up evil robots”. The story line is much more subtle and sophisticated and takes some reading to follow it. This was a very bright move, because if the lyrics were too cartoon-ish the band could have been labeled as a parody or even worse immature. Fortunately this is not the case.
The band spared no expensive, the booklet is a nine-panel fold out poster with lots of artwork with various scenes representing various songs. The artwork itself, to be honest, I don’t like the style very much. To me it looks like watercolour or something. It is very unique as we are used to seeing a lot of airbrush fantasy art or warped computer design in metal artwork. The production is also very good, and the arrangements are interesting too.
Musically, I would suggest the band inhabits a progressive rock and metal category, but not like Dream Theater but more like Rush, which to me is very high praise. There are some straight-ahead rockers like “Yesterdays News” and some tracks have saxophone, keyboards, piano and even a touch of spoken word material. The musicians are talented but surprisingly subdued at times, letting the songs breath. It seems they resisted the urge to pack too many tricks into the songs giving them space to breath, another clever move.
On first listen, I was not fully impressed, perhaps dismissing it as too mellow and the inclusion of saxophone (that vile instrument that is the least metal of all instruments) turning me off right away. But upon repeated listens the songs (that is the key) grew on me and I found myself drawn into the story and individual performances. For any band it is a brave and ambitious step to start a career with a concept CD, but COBRA have pulled it off admirably. You can check the band out at …http://www.cobrarocks.co.uk.