Monday, May 16, 2011

Cough - Ritual Abuse

Ritual Abuse
Relapse Records

After releasing an E.P. and one full-length album through the small local label Forcefield Records (2007’s ‘The Kingdom’ and 2008’s ‘Sigillum Luciferi’), Richmond (Virginia, U.S.) based outfit Cough have signed up with Relapse Records for their latest effort ‘Ritual Abuse’.
Anyone who’s familiar with Cough’s last couple of releases will know what to expect on ‘Ritual Abuse’. But for those unaware, Cough is very much a band whose sound is as heavy as you could imagine anyone can get within the sludge/doom metal realm. Running for a little over fifty-three minutes in length, and boasting a mere five tracks, it’s fair to say that Cough (Who comprise of vocalist/guitarist David Cisco, vocalist/bassist Parker Chandler and drummer Joey Arcaro) aren’t afraid to stretch out their song writing and exhaust every possible avenue in the riff department and freely jam til their heart’s are content.
The opening track ‘Mind Collapse’ is fairly indicative of Cough’s latest album from start to finish, and that’s a sluggish tempo that rivals that a funeral procession, crushing heaviness in the riff department, demonic vocals that drift from ravaged black metal screams to wavering clean vocals, lots of distortion (On both the guitar and bass front) and a general overall atmosphere of suffocating depression. Cough’s music isn’t for the faint hearted, or those looking for something with a positive disposition. No, Cough are fairly grim, slow moving and crushingly heavy.
Apart from a couple of impressive retro sounding solos that liven things up a little, and a somewhat catchy chorus, the equally long (Twelve minute) follow-up track ‘A Year In Suffering’ pretty much follows along the same lines as the opener. It isn’t until ‘Crippled Wizard’ (Which clocks in at a tidy seven minutes long) that Cough really offer up something a little more palatable, with the vocals relying less on screams and more on melodic and cleaner efforts (Even if they sound a little nightmarish in places), and the riff structures and groovier passages sounding more thought out and distinctive, while ‘Crooked Spine’ is the obvious stand out cut on the band’s latest release with its further exploration of doubled up clean vocals, its loose psychedelic blues vibe and its rather odd, yet catchy choruses.
Finishing up the album is the title track ‘Ritual Abuse’. While trying its hardest to be the heaviest and most demonic track on the album (Especially on the vocal front), ‘Ritual Abuse’ fails in its mission when compared to the two that preceded it with its lack of clear direction around its instrumental middle section.
In terms of capturing the true atmosphere and vibe of depressing sludge/doom metal, Cough are out and out winners. So on some level, ‘Ritual Abuse’ is a real winner. But in terms of song writing, the five tunes presented here are very much hit and miss, giving the album a real inconsistency.
Cough are a solid act and ‘Ritual Abuse’ does have its moments, even if its appeal lies solely with those who love slow moving sludge/doom metal in its most depressive form.

For more information on Cough, check out -

© Justin Donnelly