Cough – Still They Pray album review

Virginia stoner rockers Cough switch to a smoother strain

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It’s been five years since Cough last released a full-length, a pace as ponderous as their vitriolic doom.

Their last release was a 2013 split with friends Windhand, and it’s a relationship that continues to bear fruit, Windhand guitarist Garrett Morris here sharing recording/production duties with Electric Wizard’s high priest, Jus Oborn, resulting in Cough’s most polished affair yet. Haunter Of The Dark takes a stiff hit of the Wiz, emanating a reek that sticks to your clothes with every classically fuzz-toned riff, wah-sozzled solo and bewitching vocal.

The baleful, tortured nature of old Cough soon returns, Possession and Dead Among The Roses increasing the misery during their funeral procession. This is a distinctly more polished affair than 2010’s Ritual Abuse, losing something elemental, but becoming increasingly emotionally evocative as the band flirt with change, exchanging malevolence for melancholy with The Wounding Hours’ funeral organ-enhanced gravitas, before closing ceremonies with a profound acoustic lament. By retaining what fans loved about them yet broadening their palette, Still They Pray ultimately proves worth the wait.