I’m not exactly revealing a big secret here, but if you’re into underground metal, moving to Richmond, Va., probably isn’t the worst idea in the world. How many more killer bands can that area possibly cultivate? Just last week we brought you the latest from Inter Arma, a band from that region that boasts members of equally devastating Bastard Sapling, and that’s only scratching the surface.
Also from that city is Municipal Waste, the hard-partying, beer-soaked thrashers who are making music for Nuclear Blast, not to mention higher-profile bands such as Lamb of God and Gwar who are pretty much household names. How much quality metal can one area possibly contain? Everyone seemed content to throw tons of accolades Atlanta’s way a few years ago when that area was a hotbed, but how about some adulation for Richmond?
Also from that town are two other bands who both call Relapse home, druggy sludge doom unit Cough and smoky, psyche doomers Windhand, a very recent signing for the label. Both have been making boiling cauldrons of goodness for some time now, with Cough’s last full-length “Ritual Abuse” coming in 2010, and Windhand’s powerful, self-titled debut dropping last year on Forcefield. Both appear to have very promising futures ahead of them, and each are interesting additions to Relapse’s suddenly expanding lineup that has gone way past the death metal and grind era of years past. Good for them.
Both bands are represented on a new split effort “Reflection of the Negative,” a 37-minute collection of three tracks that Relapse is releasing to the masses. It serves as an excellent reminder of what made Cough so damn intriguing and deadly in the first place, while it also gives people new to Windhand a taste of what they do so well. It’s a really good collection, and fans of the bands and newcomers to each who just love doom would do well to invest in this release, which is the best split effort we’ve heard so far in 2013.
Cough are comprised of four dudes–bassist/vocalist Parker Chandler (also of Windhand), guitarists David Cisco and Brandon Marcey, and drummer Joseph Arcaro–and they sound as evil, fucked up, and droning mad as ever before. They contribute one song, but that cut is an epic designed to boil your senses and leave you with no clue where you traveled during their ritual.
“Athame” is a slim, trim 18:31 long, so yeah, you’re going to be there a while. But that’s totally fine because it’s a scorching song that trudges in mud and psychological torture, and every step of the filthy journey is awash in chaos. The tempo is slow-driving and at times coldly mechanical, and there are thick sections of drone that keep the song unapologetically heavy. The vocals are screamy and grimy, but now and then when they reach for higher, they remind of Mike Scheidt’s from YOB. “The time has come for sacrifice!” Chandler howls, and eventually the song slips into trippy, psychological terrain, heavy noise, and a drug-addled haze. It’ll mess you up good, and it’s a track so good that it makes me salivate for a new full-length from the band. Not to be greedy.
Windhand is comprised of five members including the aforementioned Chandler, guitarists Asechiah Bogdan and Garrett Morris, drummer Ryan Wolfe, and vocalist Dorthia Cottrell, who is in total command on the band’s two songs. In fact, Cottrell bursts with life and power, and she has improved as much as any vocalist I can think of in the past few years. And she already was really damn good to begin with, but she’s ascended into the stratosphere with her work on this split effort.
“Amaranth” is witchy and smoky, and it’s the perfect introduction for new listeners who need a quick taste of what this band does well. Right away it is noticeable just how powerful and commanding Cottrell is on this record, as she just soars like a dark spirit in the night. The band’s brand of doom is buzzing and numbing, and the melodies on this song are catchy and sticky, leaving them in your head for long past the cut’s expiration. “Shepherd’s Crook” is unreal, the best song the band’s even created, as organs spill out and fill the room with fog, the music enraptures you and leaves you in a trance, and Cottrell’s expressive singing carries the band’s agenda wherever it needs to go. She’s so good on this song and has such a presence, it might not be long before she is acknowledged as one of the best new voices in doom metal if she can continue turning in performances this good. The rest of the band? Yeah, they’re pretty damn good too.
This is a must-have collection for anyone huffing the fumes of underground doom who want to be up to speed on the sub-genre’s best up-and-coming acts. The fact Relapse claims both on their roster is a giant coup for them and shows their ears are near the ground, and both of these bands have what it takes to be doom heavyweights for years to come.
For more on Cough, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Cough666
For more on Windhand, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Windhand/115952841804204?ref=ts&fref=ts
To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/