REVIEW: COUGH – “Still They Pray”
Cough love guitar feedback. If you’ve heard their first full-length album ‘Sigillum Luciferi’, and to a slightly lesser extent, ‘Ritual Abuse’, you’ll know what I mean. In their third full-length album, ‘Still They Pray’, they have widened their intro style and this album is diverse in its tracks’ opening tones. However, the descent into their sound still all begins with a good, strong, wavering piece of guitar feedback. Just so you know it’s them.
‘Still They Pray’ was produced and partially recorded by Electric Wizard member Jus Oborn, and otherwise recorded by Windhand’s Garrett Morris, and although it certainly feels a little more polished -and five years in the making will add to that -nothing is taken away from their heavy, thunderous rolling sound, which reigns supreme as ever. After wading through the well-structured “Haunter of the Dark”, and dragging you through the powerful “Possession”, you are even further lost in the mist of doom at the start of the psychedelic guitar-laced tale of death lust, “Dead Among The Roses”; the pace begins to build here to a hectic wailing guitar duet, and its totally glorious crescendo.
After that, it’s back to notes that really scrape along, a form of enjoyable torture with a title most fitting, “Masters of Torture”. This really is an album to hate yourself to. And morbidly contemplate, through ‘Let It Bleed’ -a grinding ballad of death that takes you to the depths of your mind and might let you back, maybe. A moment’s quiet reflection within a bassline brings you into the psychedelic trip that is ‘Shadow of the Torturer’. Probably the easiest on the ears, the groove is still tentatively torturous -this band isn’t gonna let you off too lightly. It is relentless. Any aural ecstasy you may have felt is toyed with in “The Wounding Hours”, a mix of heavy sludge and swooning guitar, tying these predominant elements of this album together beautifully.
The album ends on an acoustic note with title track, “Still They Pray”, an anguished outpouring of a soul. The gaps in the strummed guitar are filled with atmospheric noise-scapes best enjoyed with headphones, or turned up even louder than I recommend you play the rest of the album -which would be loud. There are few albums I insist are played from start to finish, as it’s so often a few tracks will stick out, and the temptation is to play just those over and over, and if the music really is for you, those stand-out tracks may switch until you’ve obsessed over them all, but individually. This album is one that takes you on a journey which needs to start at the beginning, and finish at the end. Stick with it. Play it again.
Through some form of brooding wizardry, Cough have pushed the trudge of their sludge even further in their latest epic aural pilgrimage album ‘Still They Pray’.