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Black Cobra 

When: Thu., Sept. 22, 6-8 p.m. 2011
Price: free with gallery admission ($5-$7)

Black Cobra might be the Bay Area's most underrated metal band. While black and crust seem to be the trendy genres of late, guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian and drummer Rafael Martinez play a style that's far more straightforward: thunderous, brash, loud, and dirty. It's not adorned with fancy accoutrements: no blazing guitar solos or chunky breakdowns, no effects pedals or pretty melodic parts, no bluesy inflections or pop song structure or even much in the way of dynamics. Songs generally start with both members firing on all cylinders -- and end that way, too. Rhythmic changes and Landrian's meaty riffs keep it engaging. On the band's soon-to-be-released fourth album, Invernal, the duo subtly changes things up -- namely, with some quiet, melodic parts and actual guitar solos. But don't worry, with song titles like "Avalanche," "Abyss," and "Obliteration," Invernal doesn't mark a dramatic departure for the band. It's still absolutely punishing. The band plays with Walken and Hightower as part of an exhibit of Ben Venom's "heavy metal quilt" at YerbaBuenaCenter for the Arts' Sculpture Court (701 Mission St., San Francisco) on Thursday, Sept. 22. 6 p.m.-8 p.m., free with gallery admission ($5-$7). YBCA.org

— Kathleen Richards

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