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Rising Local Metal Heroes Charger Headline Starline Social Club in Oakland

By Dave Pehling

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- A local metal band that has established itself as a leading light of the Bay Area headlines its biggest hometown show yet this Saturday when Charger takes the stage at the Starline Social Club in Oakland with veteran headbangers Black Cobra.

Anchored by Rancid/Operation Ivy bassist Matt Freeman, the fast-rising power trio started bashing out its pummeling tunes that take cues from Motörhead and Killers-era Iron Maiden in 2018.

CHARGER -Crackdown by CHARGER BAND on YouTube

The threesome is rounded out by drummer Jason Willer -- who also plays in Jello Biafra's Guantanamo School of Medicine and has toured with British punk legedns UK Subs and Hawkwind's Nik Turner -- and former God Lives Underwater guitarist Drew McGee. The band released a self-titled EP on Pirates Press Records the following year that captured the locomotive power of Charger's pulverizing live sets.

Charger - "Watch Your Back" by piratespress on YouTube

The pandemic dealt Charger a setback as far as performing live, but the group made the best of the downtime, issuing a double-A sided picture disc featuring the new tunes "Watch Your Back" and "Stay Down" in 2020. That single served as a precursor to Charger's highly anticipated debut full-length album Warhorse, which was released to wide acclaim last month. While still churning out hectic, old-school metal that recalls the galloping riffs of classic Priest and Maiden on such songs as "Summon the Demon" and "Rolling Through the Night" (which was featured in a stunning animated video that recalled the movie Heavy Metal), the trio explores other sounds with the synth/organ-heavy "Dig Your Own Grave."

For this first live show since the album's release in March, Charger will be joined by celebrated Bay Area metal duo Black Cobra. Founded in 2001 after former Cavity guitarist Jason Landrian relocated from his Miami home base to San Francisco, Black Cobra paired Landrian with drummer Rafa Martinez (who had himself played guitar in stoner-rock outfit Gammera). Churning out a furious onslaught for a two piece, the duo became known as a fearsome live act that touched on elements of doom, sludge and thrash metal echoed by Bay Area contemporaries like High on Fire and Saviours.

BLACK COBRA "Lightning In His Hand" by melaleuka on YouTube

The band's eponymous self-released EP led to a deal with At a Loss Records, who put out Black Cobra's savage debut Bestial in 2006 and follow-up Feather and Stone a year later. While Martinez split his time between Black Cobra and playing bass for SF doom icons Acid King for a couple of years, he would return his focus to his main band for their third album and first for noted metal imprint Southern Lord, the acclaimed 2009 effort Chronomega that featured Martinez's ferocious drums propelling a dizzying blitzkrieg of riffs from Landrian.

Black Cobra - Eye Among The Blind (Official Video) by Season of Mist on YouTube

The band has mostly been quiet since issuing its fifth album Imperium Simulacra for French label Seasons of Mist in 2016, though Martinez had another more recent stint as the bassist in Acid King. The duo returned to activity before the pandemic shutdown with a string of festival appearances and local shows and has reportedly begun to work on new material for its next album. For this show at the Starline Social Club Saturday, East Bay death metal outfit Iron Front kicks things off with an opening set.

Charger with Black Cobra and Iron Front
Saturday, April 9, 8 p.m. $19-$21
Starline Social Club

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