Friday 15 July 2016

Cough - "Still They Pray" (Album Review)

By: Gerardo Pacheco

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 03/06/2016
Label: Relapse Records

“Still They Prey” CD//DD//LP track listing

Haunter of The Dark (7.50)
Possession (10.24)
Dead among the Roses (10.46)
Masters of Torture (7.54)
Let It Bleed (9.36)
Shadow of the Torturer (10.34)
The Wounding Hours (6.37)
Still They Pray (4.09)

The Review:

With this release, Cough barely breaks the decade span career-wise. Formed back in 2005 in Richmond, VA, as a trio originally, It didn’t take them long to write and record their first EP, “Kingdom” (We Are The Label, 2006), followed by their debut full-length, “Sigillum Luciferi” (Forcefield Records, 2008) which garnered the attention of Relapse Records. Their second full-length “Ritual Abuse” (Relapse, 2010) was widely well received by critics and their cult-like following. Sanford Parker (MINSK, Pelican, Indian) was behind the board for the aforementioned LPs.

It seems almost ironic then that Jus Oborn is heavily involved in this affair. After drawing Electric Wizard comparisons well over the course of their career, it seems only fitting that they asked him to produce and record this time around. On the other hand, Garrett Morris’ involvement seems like a natural move given Parker Chandler’s other gig, that band being none other than, Windhand. We can bitch about Cough taking so long to put new material out, and one can only assume and attribute it to Chandler’s band juggling. But in hindsight, “Reflection of the Negative” (Relapse, 2013) allowed us to witness the magnitude of his musicianship holistically and established him in the pantheon, or graveyard if you will, that is the Demons [gods] of Doom. On a separate note, coming up with material such as what is presented, you need to acknowledge the fact that they did not put this record out to fill their pockets and run.

Let’s just get something off the table to boot. While their previous efforts clocked in at 56 and 53 minutes respectively, “Still They Pray” runs for 68 oppressive, slow burning, mind-bending minutes. Just about the same length as your regular black mass. To begin this ritual, in true Cough fashion, feedback drips from David Cisco’s rig, before full riff utopia bursts out, with swirling kaleidoscopic antics weaving seamlessly throughout opener “Haunter of the Dark”. Slowing things down a bit, Chandler shows us a glimpse of his heavy bass tone, not before he falls into full despair mode to carry on with the regular Cough M.O., in which they hit us with back to back 10+ minute tracks in “Possession” and “Dead Among The Roses”, the LP’s 2nd released single. Speaking of that third track, the song writing made me nostalgic, as it sounds like 90s grunge had sampled some Indica-laced blunt. Here, it is undeniable that Brandon Marley really joins the fray to provide some much appreciated dual-guitar melodies. To close off the first leg of the record, we are slapped with some of the sludgiest and darkest riffs in “Masters of Torture”. That is, until they pick up the tempo quite considerably for one of the most memorable head banging moments up to this point.

Let It Bleed” really sets the tone for the 2nd half and serves as a bridge between the concepts that the band intend to marry in unholy matrimony, namely the psychedelic with the doom. If you have not been partaking in some sort of leaf hailing by now, “Shadow of the Torturer” is as good a time as any to do so. A 10+ minute sonic attack of instrumental, fuzzed-out groove galore, going from sweet southern rock to an overwhelming wall of sound. There, the record’s 1st single, “The Wounding Hours” kicks in. Its painfully obvious how this would be the 1st single out, as it presents Cough at their pinnacle. The organ is a new wrinkle on the recording, haunting the mix, complemented by solid, fat riffs along with Joey Arcaro’s dominating and hypnotic drumming. The vocal work conveys such misery that it is beautiful in its own tragic way. Which brings us to the title track and album closer, “Still They Pray”, which presents an acoustic madrigal. This may be a shot in the dark, but its apparent to me how this track ties the entire record together, revealing the band at their most vulnerable.

Don’t sleep on this; I can assure you it’ll be included on a bunch of best of, end of year lists. Abuse your speakers and play it fucking loud!

Still They Prey” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook