Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Cobra - Hungry For Vengeance

Fascinating the sub-worlds there are out there. I've heard only a handful of bands like this but I've been tickled pink every time. UK's Cobra (www.cobrarocks.co.uk) call themselves a '70s-style rock band, which if you think about it, is fairly virgin territory, outside of stoner rock and outside of the '70s itself. Another name for this might be classic rock, because what you get is dated-on-purpose metal with a boogie and hard rock edge, sorta like a really good Trapeze or James Gang album smacked up the head with the hooks and commercial appeal of Ted Nugent or Moxy. And in the spirit of a thorough history lesson, there's forays into the blues, prog, acoustic, whatever the hell Zeppelin was, everything dogpiling into a big happy retro-perfect pile that sounds (weirdly) like long-lost project albums by mid-tier hard rockers. Think Hughes Thrall, St. Paradise, Whitford St. Holmes, Coverdale Page, The Firm, early Whitesnake, Joe Perry Project, you know what I mean? Kinda like not the very best songs by huge talents, but the songs you kept nagging them to write, immediate, heavy, made for the stage. Man, I just crack a smile when every song on this kicks in because it really is like walking through a vault of '70s hard rock albums, y'know, when rock wasn't that hard because everybody grew up with '60s music. All in all, this is a heck of a show, and by trip's close, very British. Cobra might be onto a whole new genre here, DPMKIII rock or something. Note: the band's second album, with guitarist The Axe (Clive Rogers) also in possession of a solo album called Journey's End.
Rating 7.5

Hanker - Snakes And Ladders
(Metal Disk)

Very cool band here, but it's an uneasy cool, the listener caught up in wondering if the band's rough retro feel is on purpose or by virtue of limitation. But if you chuck the analysis and just enjoy, one methodically gets sucked into this band's highly arresting vibe, which is a cross between, damn, many things. First reference is oddly Blaze-era Maiden, due to Pascal Cliche's vocals and the slightly browned out production values. But man, don't take that the wrong way, because the songs Hanker place within this context are rock solid and fantastical at once, recalling old prog metal like Warlord, new stand-alones like Eidolon, all darkened and deepened by a dismal weather vibe that is equal parts Trouble and independent NWOBHM. And one further gets the sense Hanker are fully in control of these balanced, escapist elements because their lyrics are so universal, mature, unflashy, even more the feat given that Hanker are a bunch of mysterious French Canadians. Weird and wonderful, and now that I think of it, maybe more like Killers-era Maiden crossed with old Swedish power metal with Blaze singing (and I didn't need the Ides Of March quote at the start of On The Verge Of Tears to sort that one out). OK, you should now be sufficiently stoked. Go git it: www.hankermetal.com.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 4