Cognitive
"Abhorrence"
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May 17th, 2024

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Shane Jost: Vocals
Rob Wharton: Guitar
Harry Lannon: Guitar
Tyler Capone-Vitale: Bass
AJ Viana: Drums

Technical death metal troupe Cognitive are back with Abhorrence, their fifth full length album and a tremendously worthy successor to 2021's Malevolent Thoughts of a Hastened Extinction. This is the New Jersey powerhouse quintet at its brutal best - unrelenting riffs leave the listener stunned, while a wave of thoughtful, devastating lyrics washes over. The album is a turbulent, draining but ultimately fulfilling experience.

Cognitive started work on Abhorrence while touring Malevolent Thoughts of a Hastened Extinction, sending tracks back and forth to each other while trekking from one intense gig to another.

"While we were on tour, we started writing the record," says guitarist Rob Wharton. "There were riffs and ideas that didn't make Malevolent Thoughts. We just kept toiling away with it. And then we recorded the 'Rot Eternal' single in between touring. So it's been just nonstop writing."

Drummer AJ Viana has his own studio (he's previously worked with bands as prestigious as Hath), and he recorded, tracked and mixed the album, before Ryan Williams (The Black Dahlia Murder, John Frum) at Metal Blade mastered it. Viana would send mixes to Williams and they honed them in the mastering process. To the album's immense benefit, it was a collaborative process and everyone brought their A game.

"We're very fortunate that AJ can track and do everything," says Wharton. "It's good quality, and it holds up."

Abhorrence continues Cognitive's trend of releasing a new album every few years and, while that does lead to tight turnarounds, the band has clearly evolved both sonically and lyrically this time.

"It's the songwriting, maturity and having more hooks," Wharton says. "We were repeating riffs a little bit more on this record. It comes with maturity. But I just think that there was more focus on what we want to do and what doesn't work in the band musically."

Looking back on Cognitive's career, starting with 2012's The Horrid Swarm EP, Wharton believes that he's gotten smarter, older and wiser.

"It's interesting, because even on this record, there's things where I was like, man, 'it'd be cool if we got back to doing this because we haven't done this kind of stuff in a long time'," he says. "That's where I felt like certain things early on in the band were interesting, and then there's stuff where I'm like, 'we should try doing this because we haven't done this yet.' We're always adapting and figuring out what we want to do, as opposed to what we need to do musically because, to me, no matter what, I play music for myself."

That desire to create something with an authentic artistic vision is what led to the recording of Abhorrence. The album is an exercise in aural turbulence, each taking the listener on a magnificently traumatic journey.

"Our lyrics for this record are all over the place," Wharton said. "There's some stuff about video games and addiction and mental health. To me, that's the kind of subject matter that hits home because everyone's got stuff going on in their lives and life ain't easy. So to me, when we have those layers, it's relatable."

The album title certainly is. Many people will have looked at the state of the world in recent years and felt that "abhorrence" is an entirely appropriate world.

"We were going through all the song titles and wondering which is the strongest song," Wharton says. "We decided to go with Abhorrence because everything's disgusting anymore. Everyone's so mean and cruel to each other and the world is terrible. We just felt like it kind of encompassed everything. We had put a lot of time into that one specifically because there are so many repeating parts, but it was mostly about depression, anxiety attacks and mental health."

Meanwhile, "Insidious" is a song about drug addiction, written by vocalist Shane Jost.

"I feel like everyone in their lives has had to deal with some kind of form of addiction, whether it's themselves, a friend or a family member," Wharton says.

Another Jost composition, "Ivory Tower," is a socially-conscious number about the greedy folk that hoard money, while Wharton describes "Savor the Suffering" as a typical gore-death metal song. "Rorschach" has nothing to do with the Watchmen comic book character but rather goes right to the source.

"He's a psychologist, and the inkblot design technique is his," Wharton says. "So Shane was talking about mental health stuff. He was fascinated by how certain designs can show you different brain activity and patterns."

On that note, "Lunar Psychopathy" sounds like it might well be another exploration of mental health issues. In fact it's about werewolves, proving that this album runs the gamut with its subject matter.

"There were no overlapping subjects," Wharton says. "Everything was really just like, 'This feels like it should be about that. And this is what's going on in our lives.' Or, 'Hey, I'm playing this video game or reading this book or playing Magic the Gathering. And it reminds me of this.' So I would apply that here and just see how it comes out."

The title track is the first single, with "A Pact Unholy" following. Meanwhile, the band will be keenly touring the album in 2024.

"In May, we're heading to Europe," Wharton says. "And we have a bunch of other tours that aren't announced yet either that we're, you know, a lot of touring stuff, we're just finishing up the details. So it's gonna be a lot of touring."

This promises to be a big year for Cognitive, as they take Abhorrence on the road and bring more people into their vile new world. 13 years after the release of their debut EP, the band's fifth full-lengther sees them continue to make giant strides forward while retaining the elements of their past efforts that got them this far.

Abhorrence may provide therapeutic commentary about how messed up the world currently is, but also, ironically, provides a breath of fresh air. We're all in this together, so catch Cognitive on the road this year.



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