Night Cobra’s Anthemic Heavy Metal Glows on “Run the Blade” (Early Track Stream + Interview)
There’s an endless appeal to heavy metal. That can manifest in a lot of ways; some crave the freedom and spirit of the genre, others the nostalgia for the rocking tunes of their youth, the themes, the potential for high musicianship, the huge goddamn riffs—the list is nearly endless. Again and again talented musicians are drawn into it, as they have been since the ‘70s, and “newcomers” Night Cobra contain a wealth of experience, particularly from the lineup of Houston doom powerhouse Venomous Maximus.
The often-retrospective and fondly reminiscent tunes of Night Cobra have absolutely nothing to do with Venomous Maximus and everything to do with the most brilliantly sharp side of the genre back in the ‘80s. The laser-focused riffs of the most musically accomplished Brits, the epic flair of some of the more manly American bands, and a whole lot of heart come together in this new band in a fitting followup to 2020’s smash hit debut EP In Praise of the Shadow.
Today’s song premiere, “Run the Blade,” is a sci-fi epic: even the intro synths suggest Vangelis, which is fitting for a song explicitly about Blade Runner. Galloping riffs, uplifting solos, and grim lyrics are the backbone for a song that, despite inherently playing something old, manages to sound not like some previous band but like a true original piece of Night Cobra.
Listen to the exclusive premiere below and read an interview with vocalist Christian Larson (who also runs heavy metal festival Hell’s Heroes, and plays in melodic black metal band Necrofier).
Though your band name and cobra-dominated artwork suggest a more cheesy and retrospective band, Dawn of the Serpent is a pretty nuanced and layered album that brings a lot of different influences. Do you think your aesthetic matches the music? Why do you sing about science fiction instead of having nine songs about snakes, and most importantly, why isn’t there a song about Johnny Lawrence and Cobra Kai?
Science Fiction seems to be becoming reality lately so that’s what inspires a lot of Night Cobra lyrics. Singing about silly things isn’t for me. Even though it’s science fiction, I draw from our world as well. It seems like everything is on the edge of disaster, so what better to sing about. The context behind the band brings a little more darkness to the art. Snakes are a symbol of rebirth and Earth is in desperate need of it. How could you not feel we are in tech noir world when you visit a lot of cities these days? The rich are rich and the poor are poorer and it doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon.
Today’s premiere, “Run the Blade,” opens with a synth intro that screams Rick Deckard and synths keep popping up through the album, most notably with an entire interlude via “Acid Rain.” How deeply do those synths tie into your songwriting? What draws you to them?
I got into playing synth about 5 years ago from my friends Beau Beasley and Joel Grind. I already liked synth music but I wanted to dive in and play it. Maybe I have seen Bladerunner or Escape from New York too many times, but I think synth makes the perfect soundtrack for a future world in decay. It brings the future and past together and almost make you feel the rain while standing in a city under the neon lights. The atmospheres, art and visions it creates; I love it all.
In Praise of the Shadow was self-released, but the new album will be with cult true metal defenders High Roller Records. Were you tempted at all to self-release the new album? What made High Roller the perfect fit, and did you have any other good options you turned down in favor of working with Steffen?
I like self-releasing EPs and seeing how everything goes with a band before diving into the label world. It’s a good way to launch a project and make you feel more connected to it. I have always loved High Roller and have been wanting to work with them for a long time. Really glad the stars aligned, and it worked out for this release. We turned down quite a bit of good options. We were slightly tempted to self-release, but with so many good options made it an easy decision.
Is it strange to find yourself exclusively behind the mic after years primarily as a guitarist? Did you find the same principles of writing riffs and melodies transferring to writing vocal lines?
It was very strange at first. It took me a while to feel comfortable without a guitar. I did get a small wooden Cobra staff that I use for a mic stand so I could have something in my hands to help the transition. It feels really comfortable on stage with it. For writing, the same principles apply, but vocally, I’m able to do more because I’m not playing guitar. I tried a couple different styles for the vocals and really wanted there to be some character. Too many bands just sing well these days, but forget about the feeling. I wanted it to feel dirtier like the world we live in.
What keeps you coming back to heavy metal year after year, and what really separates Night Cobra from old bands and releases you’ve played on? What inner impetus does it fill that other bands have not?
Heavy metal has such a good energy to it; the sing-a-longs, the guitar solos and the atmosphere it creates, be it some dystopian world we’re singing about it or the fantasy stories of Eternal Champion. Everyone longs for something beyond this world and we try to fill that void with our songs and stories. Night Cobra separates itself because we add so many different elements into the band: synth, Science Fiction, and punk. Ours is almost a synthwave style, but we wrap it all up into Heavy metal. Hopefully, we can do some shows with Perturbator at some point! Night Cobra really set me free to just dive into a concept that I love and try different kinds of singing. Originally, I played guitar and sang and it didn’t work out at all. It’s really freeing to be able to just let go and sing.
On top of your work with your various bands you book for up and coming heavy metal festival Hell’s Heroes, which is looking like the current closest American analog to the big European festivals like Keep it True with this year’s big lineup. Does it inspire you when writing and rehearsing knowing that you’ll not only be booking those bands but also playing alongside them as you surround yourself with the best talent in the industry?
Thanks! I’m really excited about how the 2022 line up came together, especially after taking two years off (pandemic, etc.). I know a lot of the bands that play the festival personally through shows over the years and I’m really excited to play with all of them. It’s a good world to be a part of the and the bands are great. Anytime I listen to a new band and love them I try to get them on the Hell’s Heroes fest.
Do you have any big plans for Night Cobra now that the band will have a full length out?
So far, we are doing Hell's Heroes, Pittsburgh’s Metal Immortals fest, and the Keepers of the Flame fest this summer in Mexico city. There are a couple possible tours in the works, so I hope everything works out. It’s a crazy time for shows but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
Dawn of the Serpent releases February 11th via High Roller Records.