Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Can idol worship be metal’s most potent catalyst and yet be its biggest inhibitor to musical progression?
Let’s look at two of the most weight-carrying names in the genre, Slayer and Metallica. While their musical endeavors have led many a longhair to pick up an instrument and write their own metal, they themselves got a little inspiration from the likes of Venom and Diamond Head respectively. I guess what I’m getting at is that good musicians will want to play music like their heroes, but the truly great ones will take those lessons and create something fresh with it.
Venom makes future members of Slayer want to play guitar really fast. That vicious form of shred in turn inspires kids in Brazil to start Sepultura and play something even more ferocious.
Jobstown, New Jersey death metal quintet Cognitive fall under that good musician’s category. Obviously talented players that in the span of three years have released an EP and now a full-length self-titled album. That’s without mentioning that they’ve shared the stage with the likes of Broken Hope, Cattle Decapitation, and Wretched, to name a few. Most regional bands at that tenure are still struggling to put a recording together.
My issue with Cognitive is that they’re not doing anything we haven’t heard Whitechapel or Oceano do three albums ago. Its an LP that likely would have gotten them signed to a Century Media or Earache Records during the great deathcore scramble of 2007.
I say this because a track like opener ‘Cut the Fuck Up’ while very enjoyable and most definitely moshable sounds too much like it came off Whitechapel’s (very underrated) The Somatic Defilement. Then you have the more generic cuts like ‘Worlds Beneath’ that sounds like a song Carnifex decided to pass on. That’s not to say there isn’t a market for the stuff, i.e. notice the wave of success currently enjoyed by Thy Art is Murder. You just don’t want to get comfortable in that zone. To stay in that deathcore gray area lumps you with the Winds of Plague and Suffokate’s of the world. You do not want this.
But there is a silver lining here. Potential. Vocalist Jorel Hart sounds like a rabid bear and the real star is lead guitarist Jake Iannaco who shines brightest when tinging the songs with semi-melodic leads like in ‘Willingness of the Weak’. If Cognitive decides to blaze their own path instead of following the worn deathcore trail, they’ll cease to be good and become great.