Cough - _Ritual Abuse_
(Relapse, 2010)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (8 out of 10)
Press surrounding this Richmond based band has been very straightforward with its comparisons. Electric Wizard, Sleep and Black Sabbath have all been cited as influences or reasons for this band's existence. This and a lax position on recreational drugs all make Cough easy to understand in the world of metal. The band's promotional pictures have four long haired car mechanics bathed in a black magic diagrams from a low grade projector. I already know this album back and forth before opening the wrapper. However, Cough's second release _Ritual Abuse_, while hitting all the right notes for a spectacular stoner doom record, offers listeners something more complicated; something more horrible.

The finer points of _Ritual Abuse_ could be missed if not fully attentive. It was not until subsequent listens that I became aware of the more intriguing aspects of this record. The six song double LP has tracks stretching into the double digits with multiple sections in its construction. One of the more interesting aspects about Cough lies in the two personalities cultivated by dueling vocals. The one is a slow clean stoner metal voice which wails and surfs on Floydian waves; the other is more sinister and infinitely more grim. The black rasp makes its appearance on varying sections, sinking this expected doom record into uncomfortable and exciting spaces. The character and style is similar to the mirror shattering voice of Peste Noire frontman, La Sale Famine de Valfunde. It is this voice which takes the album into wild directions, making "Mind Collapse" and the devastating closer "Ritual Abuse" unforgettable. If you were looking for a record to trip out to, you may want to try elsewhere. _Ritual Abuse_ doesn't make the majestic voyage like _Master of Reality_ or _Tumuli Shroomaroom_. It does, however, space out in its own unique way.

The more psychedelic moments of this record are lighter than what is expected of stoner doom. "Crooked Spine" acts as one of the album's closers and uses the same blues ballad which drove the majority of 70s psychedelic music. "Crooked Spine" is at least a ton heavier than Led Zeppelin and stretches itself near the ten minute mark. The band seems infatuated with the sound of their guitars when they drone. At various spots in the album the chords become elongated before snapping back into the song. I can imagine these long haired musicians caught in a self-induced trance before fighting desperately for consciousness. The doom aspect of this record celebrates the style in a traditional sense. The sound of the guitar is not the most important role in a great doom record. It is the decelerated passage of time. The appreciation for things at a crawl. Where a three chord progression becomes a monumental journey into harsh landscapes.

It is easier to think of this record as another blacklit Sabbath worship concerned only with weed and astronomy. The fact it isn't makes it interesting, yet harder to classify and process. _Ritual Abuse_ is already being followed by a split called _Introduction to the Black Arts_ with English doom band Wounded Kings. Cough is making fine friends in all the right low places. There is something vile happening in Virginia, and Cough is making impressive towers in the land of doom.


(article published 22/12/2010)

1/27/2011 J Carbon Cough: Doom & Gloom
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