ALBUM REVIEW: Cough – Still They Pray (2016) Relapse Records


Never ending doom ritual produced by Jus Oborn from the mightly Wizard. 

Was it Picasso or T.S. Eliot or was it Igor Stravinsky that said essentially that good artists copy and great artists steal.  Electric Wizard like so many others certainly wore their Black Sabbath influence on their sleeves and took the dirtiest most tri-tone laden parts and molded it into their own cauldron of beautiful heavy sludgey sorcery.

Any fan of this genre will remember the first time they listened to Dopethrone much like watching Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain it cements in your mind sonically, cinematically and perhaps contextually.  The message or lack thereof in a “do what thou whilst” kind of way is malleable and appealing in this fucked up world.  While Stravinsky authored the “rites of spring” so to have Cough worshiped at the altar of ritual.

YouTube Preview Image

The plodding heaviness is ritualistic and the use of swelling wah drenched breakdowns that recall spells and provide release in the harder to spot call and response framework of great song craft mystic separates them from peers.  In other words, this is a genre of music that almost anyone with a desire to play loud and slow can perform.  I’ve seen a band at the Charleston in Brooklyn play this way with a drummer that made Meg White seem like Ginger Baker. Almost no one can do it well and in-fact invoke ritual magic. Some may quibble but as Let us Prey took Electric Wizard to new level here too has Still They Pray moved Cough forward from 2010’s breakthrough Ritual Abuse.  I saw them live touring that album and they definitely capture their live energy here in the tracking of their new album.

Overall, there is nothing particularly groundbreaking with this album in a metal or doom context but when you are one of the best if not the best for your specific genre and you deliver a long and brutal follow-up to a classic album then you’ve done your fans a service.  I respect incremental improvements and so should you.  We can’t die better but we can always improve the way we chant our spells.


YouTube Preview Image


Jonathan Powell is a Doom connoisseur and the guitar player from the LA band Spirit Collector.