Cognitive – Malevolent Thoughts of a Hastened Extinction Review

People around here know me as not being too into the more extreme quarters of the metal gallery. Hell, when I started writing, I’d barely prodded beyond the confines of Swedish death metal like Bloodbath and Vicious Art. Anaal Nathrakh was the exception to the rule, but even there I was more drawn to the melodic elements of their work, such as those showcased on Hell Is Empty… and deathcore never even appeared on my radar until I was trampled by Xenobiotic. Since crawling into an empty cubicle at AMG offices (while ignoring all the blood) some of the more unseemly viscera have begun to seep into the hollows of my skull. It’s a slow and sporadic process, and though my experience with tech death and deathcore remains scant, it’s enough to lash together a somewhat cohesive frame against which to place techdeathcore ensemble Cognitive.

Now, Cognitive are not a new entity to float along on the AMG river. Dear Akerblogger has reviewed them twice before, once middling, once more enthusiastically. Since 2018’s Matricide, there’s been another shake-up in the ranks, with Hath’s AJ Viana replacing the man with very nice hair on the drums, and one Tyler Capone-Vitale twanging the bass. It’s hard to tell this is a first album for any of the band members though. Malevolent Thoughts finds Cognitive operating as a tight unit, whose sole mission is to arrive, bash your face in and leave. Riffs are chuggy but energetic, supplemented with swirling leads played at backbreaking speed. The rhythm section goes through time signatures like Olympians go through condoms and are full of dizzying technical skill. The vocals perform in typical deathcore fashion: an eclectic mixture of dry growls, throat-tearing screams and the occasional cavernous slobbering.

In fact, a lot about this is fairly typical when it comes to techdeathcore, which, granted, I am hardly an expert on, as I laid out in my introduction. But even with my more limited exposure, I get deja-vu over everything on display here. The chuggy riffs, the mid-speed breakdowns, the machine gun blasts and stop-on-a-dime tempo reconfigurations are all too familiar, and it can be hard to decide what makes Malevolent Thoughts the album to spin over something like Xenobiotic or Viscera. This is especially true when comparing the 10 tracks amongst themselves, because there’s not that much separating one from another most of the time, and only on a few occasions would I be able to tell you blindfolded what song was playing. Even the production, which is a bit dense and clinical and pushes the vocals a tad too forward, is recognizable to anyone who’s been exposed to Unique Leader albums before.

But contrary to what you may expect, I always enjoyed having the album on, and there’s one good reason for it; conciseness. Cognitive know exactly for how long they can milk a riff or lead, and most of the tracks stay well clear of the 4 minute line. The Jerseyan quintet has a limited range musically, but it has both the energy and the technical chops to get the most out of that range, and the limited length ensures that you don’t get sick of any of it before they move along. Funny enough, the main exception is also the best track, the penultimate mid-paced groover “Destitute,” which contains some of the most memorable vocal lines and a sweet sweeping solo. It seems the band does recognize when they hit a pocket of inspiration, and again they mine it for all its worth and not a second longer.

I hope they hit more such pockets on the next go round, because I do thoroughly enjoy Malevolent Thoughts. It’s tightly packed with groovy ass-kicking and knows just when to quit. The lads in Cognitive have an abundance of musical talent, and their best moments reveal that they’re capable of a lot more when they step out of their comfort zone just a little. As it stands, their latest is a fun, quick, energetic but nonessential listen.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 16th, 2021

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