Virginia doomsters Cough return with their long-awaited third album, following 2010’s Relapse debut Ritual Abuse. This is not a band that moves particularly fast, as the 8 tracks on this 68-minute effort would attest. And while they do tend to drag out and drone on at times, the longest song on this one still falls short of 11 minutes.
“Haunter of the Dark” starts things off at a turgid pace, its opening riff sounding like Sleep played in half-time. Vocals are distorted and mixed a little low, barely cutting through the bass-heavy grooves. Still, this is a pretty solid stoner/doom tune, quite reminiscent of their Richmond neighbours Windhand. The 10-and-a-half minute “Possession” sounds more like Eyehategod played in super-slow mo—except in the vocal department, where some the lyrics are more intelligible than on the previous track.
“Dead Among the Roses” recalls Warning in its pace and delivery, with an equally slow, but notably cleaner approach than its more heavily distorted predecessors. “Let It Bleed” is even more melodic and melancholic, to the point where it hardly even sounds like the same band, aside from its incredibly slow tempo. On the other hand, “Masters of Torture” is a slow ‘n sludgy stomper, sort of a cross between Church of Misery and Winter, while 10+ minute instrumental “Shadow of the Torturer” leans more towards the former’s bluesier side.
Though the tempos can be somewhat torturous at times, I give Cough a lot of credit for taking a varied approach within their super-slow framework. No two tracks are exactly alike, and when you’re dealing with a 68-minute sludge/doom album, that’s definitely a good thing!