Enlarge Photo: I By the Tide Promotions via Cognitive

Heavy Rotation: Cognitive’s Rob Wharton


When it comes to the field of technical death metal, there really aren’t bands that work harder than Cognitive. The New Jersey quintet are prolific, cranking out four records since 2014 and are already looking toward their Metal Blade debut. Before Cognitive head out on tour with Gorod next month, MetalSucks caught up with guitarist and chief songwriter Rob Wharton to get the lowdown on what albums he’s had in his heavy rotation.

Psycroptic- Divine Council

Psycroptic has been at it a long time, and let’s face it: the Haley Brothers are straight machines. Joe’s riffs are incredible, and the best of both technical and catchy worlds. “Enslavement” starts with a very Gojira-type groove that just drops into some insane riffing soon after that instantly can grab any listener’s attention.  A band that can always inspire anyone to step up their guitar playing at any time.

Analepsy – Quiescence

No, guys, the band has nothing to do with butt stuff. This album and band is nothing but some of the sickest slam ever to exist. Packaged with incredible artwork and killer production, this album is a must for any slam head. And the last riff in “Spasmodic Dissonance” is hell on earth.

Ion Dissonance – Solace

A math metal classic and, to me, the scariest riffs ever written. The intensity which makes the off-time breakdowns hit even harder is still mind boggling.  Nothing hits harder than the breakdown in “O.A.S.D.”

Alice in Chains – Dirt

Yes, I’m putting a grunge band on here and it’s the heaviest one. Alice in Chains is the best band ever.  The vocal harmonies alone are so inspiring. But the song structures, the heartfelt lyrics just sweeten it all up. Also Jerry Cantrell is a riff MONSTER who has riffs for days. Best band that doesn’t get old.

Stabbing – Extirpated Mortal Process

Super brutal slam done right. A dirty production that’s human, but audible. The riffing goes from super buzzsaw riffs to some straight-up Neanderthal slams. There’s a LOT of straight-up slam/brutal death bands out there, but Stabbing does it so well. This album is such a fun listen!

The End – Elementary

This record is super special. These guys started as a straight math metal band and crushed it, but this record showed an evolution of them mixing it with Deftones-like clean vocals and I’m here for it. Songs like “Animals,” “Throwing Stones,” “The Never Ever Aftermath” displayed soaring vocals and peaks and valleys of absolute depression with lyrics that still hit hard to this day. The album closer, ” And Always…”  I truly regard as one of the greatest  pieces of music ever written. The lyrics and somber guitar tone of that song are so depressing that it’s easy to find comfort in it, which I hold very dear. The drumming also stands out with a lot of cool concepts that most people wouldn’t think of and it just adds to the whole mood. I wish I seen this band live, especially touring for this album. Masterpiece front to back.

Leprous – Malina

Leprous is probably my favorite  band I’ve discovered in recent years. Our guitarist Harry [Lannon] would play them a lot in the tour bus and it didn’t click right away, but when it did, I was all in. The whole band is just so talented and makes so much happen in a very technical way, but make it presentable in a pop/prog way. It’s absolutely jaw-dropping musicianship. Baard [Kolstad] is probably the most insane drummer I’ve ever seen live. I could talk forever about Einar [Solberg]’s vocal talents, but all I can say is if you can see them live, do it. It’s spectacular.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works

Jersey represent, baby!!! The undisputed kings of math metal and stage presence. I really like this album  for the dynamics. “Black Bubblegum,” “Milk Lizard,” “When Acting as a Wave”—there are so many bizarre concepts that just are so well executed that I feel like they are overlooked. Don’t even get me started on the guitar chops and memorization of all the parts.

Disentomb – “Broken Under Your Symbol of Atonement”

I know it’s just a single, but Disentomb can just do no wrong. Combining brutal death metal of the likes of Disgorge with the dissonant vibes of Ulcerate, it’s done so well and it just keeps getting better with every effort.  Every riff in this song is incredible. Theres even a few Psycroptic-esque riffs. Hope to tour with these guys at some point.

Cryptopsy – Tome 1

I feel like this EP gets slept on because it’s not the OLD Cryptopsy.  Whisper Supremacy and None So Vile are obviously blueprints for the genre but that doesn’t mean these masters of extreme metal don’t still write BANGERS. Every song on this EP is still a masterclass in the extreme metal ways, and with a modern production added to the riffage. Cryptopsy  is one of my favorite bands and I’m so excited to hear what they do next.

Gorod w/ Cognitive and Summon the Lich

3/16 Brooklyn, NY – Sovereign
3/17 Washington, DC – Pie Shop
3/18 Pittsburgh, PA – Black Forge
3/19 Cleveland, OH – No Class
3/20 Detroit, MI – Sanctuary
3/21 Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge
3/22 Cudahy, WI – X-Ray Arcade
3/23 Menomonie, WI – Zymurgy
3/24 Lincoln, NE – 1867
3/25 Denver, CO – Roxy Theater
3/26 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
3/27 Boise, ID – Shredder
3/29 Spokane, WA – The Big Dipper
3/30 Seattle, WA – Funhouse
3/31 Portland, OR – High Water Mark
4/1 Sacramento, CA – Old Ironsides
4/2 Cupertino, CA – The X Bar
4/3 Los Angeles, CA – 172
4/4 Mesa, AZ – The Underground
4/6 Santa Fe, NM – Tumbleroot
4/7 Dallas, TX – Haltom Theater
4/8 Austin, TX – Come And Take It Live
4/9 Houston, TX – Scout Bar
4/10 Pensacola, FL – Downtown Music Hall
4/11 Tampa, FL – Brass Mug
4/12 Orlando, FL – The Haven
4/14 Charlotte, NC – Milestone
4/14 Richmond, VA – The Bike Shop

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