rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. 666
02. S.E.X.
03. Satan Is a Woman
04. Hotline 666
05. Bad Girl Crew
06. The Devil Inside of Me
07. Fly Away
08. Love = Love
09. Love Crime
10. Warrior From Hell
11. You're a Cheater
12. High on Love

From shouting at the devil, to being soundly trampled by grunge, glam/hair/sleaze, metal was easy enough to appreciate, even at its worst. Simple but fiery rock 'n' roll songs, with big, dumb choruses, showy guitar solos and enough hairspray to choke an elephant may have gone out of fashion as the '90s dawned, but big, dumb singalongs, catchy riffs and daft haircuts are never going to stop being fun, which explains why the genre is experiencing a low-key renaissance. Records like "666" can only add fuel to the fire.

An all-woman blizzard of hair, spandex and none-more-classic riffs, COBRA SPELL impressed with their 2022 "Anthems Of The Night" EP: a glossy but gritty homage to the greats of '80s hard rock, metal and AOR with lyrics that mischievously toyed with well-worn, cock rock cliches. Sensibly snapped up by NAPALM RECORDS, the Dutch quintet have no reason to mess with a winning formula. "666" builds on the EP's fresh-faced allure, with a bigger, heavier production, sharper hooks and an array of faux-futuristic studio tricks, all of which conspire to make COBRA SPELL seem like a brash and colorful cartoon entity, with technical chops galore and several galactic shit-tons of personality, as funneled through powerhouse vocalist Kris Vega.

As straightforward as it seems to play, nailing the perfect hair metal vibe is no easy task. COBRA SPELL are undeniable slaves to the past, but thanks to the aforementioned production and the sheer variety of metal strains that pass by as "666" plays out, they never sound like a pastiche or some self-conscious retro endeavor. Instead, this is the tune-heavy rock 'n' roll riot that your parents should have warned you about, but probably didn't because they were huge RATT fans back in the day.

Songs like the lascivious "S.E.X." , infernal switcheroo "Satan Is a Woman", and spiky, self-eulogizing funk-out "Bad Girl Crew" have a power metal sense of melodic thrust, but a swaggering, leather-trousered underbelly. To seal the deal, sublime vocal harmonies add an occasional glimmer of melodic rock slickness. They also delight in the opportunity to turn a table or two. "The Devil Inside of Me" pitches Vega as the evil protagonist in a deliciously overwrought verbal duel; "Love = Love" ponders, in essence, why people can't just be nice and mind their own fucking business, over some sax-augmented MOTLEY and DOKKEN worship; "You're a Cheater" delivers a stinging rebuke, exactly as advertised, but with a wiry, punked-up undertow and yet another skin-scorching solo from former BURNING WITCHES / CRYPTA guitarist Sonia Anubis.

COBRA SPELL have hidden depths, too, even though hair metal rarely demands them. "Fly Away" is moody and magnificent, like a noirish, post-grunge "Don't Fear The Reaper"; "High On Love" is loose-limbed and AEROSMITH dirty, with razor-sharp pop-rock sensibilities and a sense of joyful abandon that it shares with the best of the glam scene's triumphant '80s wave. Just as it was back in the ridiculous day, "666" is all about the good times.

Author: Dom Lawson
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