Friday, November 12, 2010

Cough: Ritual Abuse (2010)


Cough is a sludge/doom band from Richmond, Virginia, and their sophomore release Ritual Abuse came out last month.

Cough's overall sound is fairly typical for the sludge/doom genre. But like fellow Relapse sludge/doomsters Unearthly Trance, the quality of the music is far above the typical.

The riffs are extremely heavy, and slow, with a dirty tone. Feedback is used judiciously, and there are some drugged-out passages here and there. The bass generally tracks along the same riff as the guitar, but not entirely. The vocals go back and forth between a nasal, pained clean vocal and a cross between a caveman yell and a black metal rasp.
The pace is more or less steady throughout the album, but the number, variety, and power of the riffs is astounding. The shortest track ("Crippled Wizard") has an especially great one that recalls "Love Hate Love". They play the notes emphatically, and let them ring out just long enough. And they never let a riff outstay its welcome. On top of that, the songs tend to have multiple solos, which tend toward the simple and slow, and each of them has a distinct personality ("A Year in Suffering" has two of the best).

Even the mellow stoner-style, psychedelic track ("Crooked Spine") has enough going for it (slight echo to the vocals, clean notes and a bluesy solo) to keep it interesting, which is more than I can say for some of Electric Wizard's more hazy passages.

The Verdict: Cough seem to have taken the idea behind Black Sabbath to its logical extreme. It's slow, heavy, ominous, and built on the strength of riffs and great lead guitar work. I'm tempted to give it a perfect score, but I'll hold back just a bit from that. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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