It was 2005 and little did the inhabitants of Virginia’s historic capital know, but the city was soon to be ripped wide open by the newborn jaws of the four-headed doom-and-gloom serpent beast of misanthropy and transgression known as Cough. In the same city where politician Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech at Richmond’s St. John’s Church in 1775, the band initiated their own form of insurrection. Bathed in copious amounts of sludge and echoing feedback, Cough unleashed their first recording in the form of their EP, The Kingdom, in 2007. The EP was followed up the next year by their first full-length, Sigillum Luciferi, much to the delight and horn-raising praise of the underground masses.

With Cough’s appropriately-titled, second full-length effort (their first for Relapse Records), Ritual Abuse, death-cloaked tentacles of low-fi distortion and ominous atmospherics are vast in their reach, intertwining with thorns of blackened harshness and psychedelic sensibilities throughout. Clocking in at nearly an hour in length, Ritual Abuse is comprised of four lengthy forays into some refreshingly menacing territory. Droning riff structures, majestic solos, cloven-hoof-on-the-skull percussion and a vocal approach ranging from a black metal screech to an echoing, ghostly howl are all piled on in abundance here. One minute it seems as if the walls are closing in to usher in the end, then suddenly, it all explodes in a thunderous spacewarp mind-trip session with the devil himself at the controls. The layers are thick and in possession of a chilling vibe from start to finish. Opening number, “Mind Collapse” summons the Bringer of Light in an ethereal refrain knee-deep in a feedback-induced swamp of tripped-out textures and down-tempo pacing that leads the listener ever closer to the awaiting abyss. Definite album highlight, “Crippled Wizard” ups the ante with increased psychedelics on all fronts as does “Crooked Spine”, which features a rather moody, fuzz-infested guitar/percussion intro that drifts into ultra-stoner territory. The title track closes out this plodding juggernaut in a manner that proves its name is one-hundred percent suitable, as it is the fifth and final step in Cough‘s latest conjuration of doom-for-the-devil lunacy.

The reasoning is simple. Impressively ritualistic in its delivery and vicious in sound and quality, the new offering from Cough leaves the listener with the feeling they’ve just somehow survived one hell (pun intended) of a torturous round with the hounds of Hell itself. It should be said that fans of bands such as Sleep and Electric Wizard (as well as maybe even a certain leafy, green plant) will find much audio pleasure in this recording. Come now, Lucifer…Cough is here to storm the gates at your side!