Cobra Skulls - Agitations
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Record Label: Fat Wreck Chords
Somewhere tangled in between the bramble and tumbleweed are the fist pumping shenanigans of Reno-bred Cobra Skulls. Their political canvas American Rubicon rhythm trotted, kicked dust particles haphazardly in the eye, and murmured Southern twangs under the blazing heat of a Nevada sun. But it littered itself with question marks, parching my throat for slightly more cohesive writing structures. And though bass wielding frontman Devin Peralta belted out the American banner in all of its red, white, and ashen glory, the rubicon of satiable hooks erected its camp in no man's land.
Yet through the cracks surfaced a mighty pedestal of an effort, that toppled Eisenhower's statue to the ground in duct taped shoe strings and hard-assed veneer. Agitations, the band's full-length Fat Wreck Chords debut, is just six degrees away from bringing us to our knees. Or so goes my DIY paraphrasing of the fiery but bouncy chorus of "Six Degrees"; it's that free spirited wildcat which craftily adds grain and texture to every punk melodrama, baring the teeth of the band's familiar Western smile for leapfrogging vocals.
The double-sided life of Agitations sneaks around, out and about. Peralta's vocal allure is a timbre two-step that pays tribute to the peppered lungs of Tom Gabel (Against Me!), but then flips into tempered vibratos. "The Mockery" peeks out temporarily to reveal its meek side, but suddenly gets hijacked by an old school punk diddy about a man out for hierarchical blood: "he drives by his old company/in an armored SUV/and he notes how they'd think/he's making a mockery", reassures ally Peralta.
"Drones" calls all hepcats, amidst plush tempos, jazzy chords, and kool kat whispers, adorning a cocked beret and a turtleneck. It's an intro curveball, but Cobra Skulls' master plan is simple: ease the listener into a state of leisure and ecstasy. Next, sketch a stockpile amount of "fuck you" diagrams to target every cutthroat industry and leave them at the listener's doorstep for dispersal. The package will be signed: "don't be a drone, be the hive." But of course, power can't just be handed to you. You have to follow through and fight the powers that be.
Between Peralta's gospel grooves that pop to the beat in "The Minimum", and the electrifying guitar lead in "Solastalgia" that strikes a similarity to Alkaline Trio's "Dethbed" intro but in higher key, lawless head banging would be a fitting response to the three piece's edgy takeover. Only acoustic closer, "Believe", will pick up the debris left over from 12 tracks of anarchy and then chuck it against the wind. Perhaps a mindless maneuver, but Cobra Skulls are "not trying to make you understand. [They're] just enjoying this while [they] can."
Agitations makes wrecking balls out of playground jacks in that it uses the same amount of destructive velocity as it does stimulate youth.