Released: 2010, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Cough’s RITUAL ABUSE is the best doom metal album of 2010. How’s that for an opening line? Though it’s the Virginia doom squad’s sophomore full length, RITUAL ABUSE will be the first introduction for many fans thanks to a recent deal with Relapse Records. And you should start writing your thank you cards to Relapse now for snatching up these guys, because RITUAL ABUSE will freakin’ destroy you.
Combining the finest elements of stoner, sludge, and classic doom, Cough have summoned up one mammoth slab of heavy. From the opening feedback of “Mind Collapse,” you know you’re in for something special. The tune hits you with crushingly slow guitars that give way into an Electric Wizard-esque bridge, which then layers on a disturbingly sad riff to coda the tune. It’s a simple formula that’s been done before, but it’s the way that these variables are combined that makes it something so powerful – and that’s just the first track.
And that formula is replicated throughout RITUAL ABUSE’s 53 minute play time. Balancing the perfect blend of concussion inducing riffs, off center melody, and slow headbanging hooks, Cough have set the bar exceptionally high. “Crippled Wizard” is a personal fav, with its slow, creeping ascension and virulent vocals, it’s a textbook definition of what heavy should be. “Crooked Spine” has more of a mellow, substance induced introspection for the first ¾ of the tune before ripping into a wah-frenzied solo with enough stomp to make Godzilla proud. The closing title track is dense, obtuse, painful freaking bliss, that properly sums up Cough’s mission statement.
Fans of the aforementioned Electric Wizard, Howl, Ramesses, Witchsorrow, etc. – I’m talking to you specifically now. If you haven’t already picked up RITUAL ABUSE, stop reading and do it now. You can click the link to the Relapse Records page and download it within seconds. It’s just that easy, and it’s just that good. Just when I was beginning to think that the doom scene was beginning to get tired and stale, Cough comes along and gives me new hope. Easily one of my favorites of 2010, RITUAL ABUSE is a must for any self-respecting doom fan.