I have thoroughly enjoyed New Jersey’s Cognitive rise through the underground ranks since their first EP in 2012 – The Horrid Swarm.  I became friends with guitarist Rob Wharton, reviewed several of their early releases, finally met him on one of his tours years ago and he saw me touring with Internal Bleeding, as well –  and he knows the DIY mentality in sooo many ways.

When the band made the move to Unique Leader Records for their second album, Deformity, in 2016, the dots began to connect for the band, and Rob, the sole remaining original member, at this point, was a man with a plan.  He ensured the band was playing shows and doing a multitude of mini-tours, with each passing year.  Their brand of deathcore morphing into more on the technical death metal side of things, the band still has those original ‘core elements and Cognitive began getting more proficient, creative and brutal with each passing album, just as their fan base continued to grow.

Huge news erupted in 2023 as the band jumped ship from Unique Leader Records to Metal Blade Records and here we are with Abhorrence, their fifth album.  The band is already getting tours lined up and with the backing of a bigger label…they had better be able to tour at the drop of a hat, and I see some European tours coming their way in the near future.

The band having a stable lineup since 2019 has certainly helped the band in many ways and 10 songs in 35 minutes is the perfect length of time for this genre of extreme metal because it punches harder, rather than a much longer album. Forget about fancy intros, the band rips right into the title track with a nice double pounding moment then right into the mid-paced scorching heavy AF moment with vocalist Shane Jost, showcasing his vocal expanded style, doing some of those “Goblin-Cleans”, that fellow writer James Mays referred to on his review of the last Cattle Decapitation album – for me they work exceedingly well with Cognitive.  We get the grunts, growls, screaming type of vox and those cleans, which are excellent.  The scorching slam groove, starting and stopping at the 2.22 is going to cause riots at the venues.  So damn heavy and AJ Viana’s drumming never sounded better.  The riffing of Rob and Harry Lannon continues to excel, with each passing album.

Tyler Capone-Vitale’s bass is also plucking away…and you cannot catch your breath because “Insidious” erupts as soon as the title track ends.  Monstrous blasting and this is pure unadulterated brutality.  The blasts then slow down into a monster groove and then slow down even more at the 1.50 mark….heavy and brutal.  ‘Throw in a little guitar solo and fugghetabout it!!!, you will be throwing up the metal horns all damn day during this moment.  The vicious blasts return and then right into a killer groove and the tempo shifts are great, however, they are also catchy and the band knows just the right amount of shifts to incorporate into a song, before it gets too noodly and shit.

“As the Light Fades” begins in a technical fashion, with a guitar solo right off the jump as it meanders right into technical blasts and those clean vocals are throughout this song, as certain moments have a Fallujah feel to me, especially at the atmospheric section at 3.15 with the ethereal soloing happening and this is expansive in many ways. My smile is grinning from ear to ear, as I am so proud of Rob…..for coming this far – Cognitive are on fire!!

Rather than end with a slow song, “Cold Dead Hands”, erupts out of the starting gates with a whirlwind blast choke slamming and punching people in its monstrous path.  This song takes no prisoners and terrific gutturals surround this entire track.  More groove elements are thrown in alongside some mid-paced moments and scorching blasts.  This is how you end a brutal technical death metal album, not with some atmospheric BS whimper….This ending song is a monster.

Abhorrence is the best produced Cognitive album and has a very “Big” sound to it and as their debut for Metal Blade, they made the smart decision to go this route.  As the band continues to increase their songwriting skills and tour, they are now a force to be reckoned with in the extreme metal scene.  This album destroys city block from beginning to end!!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
May 27th, 2024


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