Review: L.A. Cobra – Superstition
Crusader Records (June 24th, 2022)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
L.A. Cobra return with their fourth album ‘Superstition‘ and they come prepared to stand out amongst other bands in the genre with something called syncopation. Defined as “a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm”, this album is chock full of time changes. Usually this can create a messy sounding album and is best utilized by progressive bands who can master these changes.L.A. Cobra is certainly not progressive, yet they have managed to construct complexity from what would normally be simplistic, straightforward tracks.
Take for example one of my favorite tracks, ‘Nothing Like a Nemesis’ the rhythm changes between the verses, bridge, and chorus could have been disastrous, but it works well here and gives the song a uniqueness that is lacking in an ever-crowding field of bands all vying for that late 80s sound. Bonus points for having a cool sounding title that has never been used by any prior band.
That’s just one of many great tracks. ‘She’s My Prison’ has a strong chorus that explodes from the speakers with great gang vocals very reminiscent of Crashdïet, which is not a stretch being that the album was produced by their guitarist (more on that later). ‘Chemical Dependency’ makes the interesting choice of having bass player Ewil take lead several times and lays down a solid rhythm that frames the entire song. ‘The Star’ breaks the mold slightly and has the most straightforward beat on the album. No surprise time changes here, but a familiar yet great rhythm nonetheless.
Finally, title track ‘Superstition’ has a sinister feel that has some unusual time changes, including times when the band briefly ceases playing before exploding back with the chorus. It also has my favorite guitar riff on the album. It was during this song that I came to realize why the vocals sounded so familiar. At times singer Don Cobra has a similar vibrato to Tobias Forge, the lead singer of Ghost. The song is great despite the fact there seems to be a portion of a guitar solo missing. There’s a rhythm section for it, but without the solo, the section seems hollow.
These time changes can backfire in some situations. My least favorite track is ‘Inferno’ for this very reason. The melody is lacking in the chorus, which brings the song down. An off-beat drum signature and various stops and starts ruins the vibe of the track. Also worth noting is the lack of a ballad. Not problematic per se, but a ballsy move as most bands of the genre include at least one ballad.
A note about the production. It’s hard to avoid comparisons to a band like Crashdïet when the album is produced by Martin Sweet, Crashdïet’s guitarist. The overall sound is solid but those expecting a production similar to Crashdïet are going to be disappointed. It sounds like it was produced independently on a limited budget. This will not be a problem for most people if they venture forth with that mindset.
The melodies constructed by the band are all top notch. I cannot compare this release to any of their prior releases as this is the first one I’ve heard from the band. I will be looking into their back catalog and hoping to find something as good as what I’ve just heard. If you have their prior releases, this is a no-brainer purchase. For everyone else, L.A. Cobra has L.A. in their name for a reason. This is unapologetically sleaze glam metal at this finest. If you dig that sound, you must add this to your collection.