Pain Therapy

Conspiracy of Blackness

CONSPIRACY OF BLACKNESS is back with a revitalized line-up and a redoubled focus.
December 4, 2023

CONSPIRACY OF BLACKNESS—Alt/Gothic Metal foursome hailing from Taranto, Italy—started off as a project known as COBRA RISE AGAIN (circa 2008). Several years later they changed their name to CONSPIRACY OF BLACKNESS AND RELATIVE AFTERMATH (C.O.B.R.A.) and released a self-titled debut full-length album in 2016—a very solid record if you can find it. After revitalizing their line-up, the band has returned. Recently signed to Wormholedeath Records, they released their latest full-length album, “Pain Therapy,” on April 30, 2023.

For those who may have bumped into C.O.B.R.A. in their 2016 iteration, you’ll find the new CONSPIRACY OF BLACKNESS somewhat defanged. On the upside: The production elements have been dialed up, there is more emphasis on the Alt Metal vibe with groovier basslines and punchy drops, and Grazia Riccardo’s voice has strengthened and matured. On the downside: The band has stepped away from their previous heavy melodic edge and their rawness. Granted the rawness may have been a result of subpar production, but they sounded more urgent and grittier in 2016 than in 2023. This is not to say the refreshed and updated CONSPIRACY OF BLACKNESS has failed. They have not. Pain Therapy” is a good album with plenty of merit, but they seem to have made some choices on direction.

Throughout the years the two consistent members of CONSPIRACY OF BLACKNESS have been guitarist Antonio Bortone and vocalist Grazia Riccardo. While they are still the absolute core, the rhythm section has stepped up to take on more prominence, softening the assault of Antonio’s once visceral riffs to a Nu-Metal veneer. Adding to the Industrial/Electronica aesthetic is introduction of synths, though it is unclear who in the lineup contributes them. The result is a call back to the 90’s. A very popular era, granted, but not a lot of innovation in that space from then until now. So, if you’re big into the likes of EVANESCENCE, PARAMORE, FLYLEAF, et al., then CONSPIRACY OF BLACKNESS is for you.

The album starts with an atmospheric intro before fully committing at about mid-track. Bracketing the entire album with atmospheric bookends, the final track (sans the bonus) floats the listener out with an ambient outro. Nice touch. Standout tracks are “The Bride of Ash,” which oscillates between the heavy and the sonorous and underscores the power and subtlety of Grazia’s delivery. I also appreciate the eeriness of “Bones” which adds a bit of disquiet to the album. Third on my list is “Last Man Standing” which features some heavy, groove riffs.

The biggest surprise on the album is the bonus track,Con Il Nastro Rosa” (trans: ‘with the pink ribbon’), a Lucio Battisti cover from 1980. Lucio was a giant in Italian pop music from 1968 to 1998. The track is a love song, of course. The original features a fantastic lead guitar solo by Phil Palmer, a British session guitarist who has appeared on more than 500 albums songs and 5000 songs. While the band changes many aspects of the song, including cutting the lead solo, Grazia opts to sing in Italian. On the solo, I see it as a bow to Phil Palmer, essentially Antonio is saying Palmer’s solo cannot be replicated. Agreed. On the Italian vocals. Uhm, hell yes! Hopefully the band will opt to perform more tracks in Italian in the future.

Final analysis: CONSPIRACY OF BLACKNESS has made some choices. I can’t say I am thrilled with all of them, but they picked their road, and they delivered a product consistent with that trajectory. One thing they did not change is their reliance on Grazia Riccardo, which is a good thing.


6 / 10

Had Potential








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"Pain Therapy" Track-listing:

1. Oblivion

2. Collapsed

3. Welcome Death

4. The Bride Of Ash

5. Bones

6. Afterlife

7. The Moth

8. Rise

9. Last Man Standing

10. Con Il Nastro Rosa (Lucio Battisti Cover - Bonus Track)


Conspiracy of Blackness Lineup:

Antonio Bortone – Guitar

Grazia Riccardo – Vocals

Andrea Caliri – Bass

Francesco Salerno – Drums


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