Here are two more quick reviews from Chris, a stalwart if there ever was one....
Cough Ritual Abuse
By: Chris Davison
Some doom is virtually easy listening. You know the kind of thing; you pop it in your CD player or digital playlist machine thingamawhatsis, and it produces some virtual Sabbath worship that gives you a facsimile version of Osbourne and company circa 1973. There is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all, except that, well, it's kind of expected, not to mention a crowded field. Then ,there is the other doom. The “other doom”, I hear you opine? Yeah, the stuff that's as heavy as a cart load of lead being transported in a cast iron wagon.
That's where Cough come in. Largely, and rightly, lauded within the doom community over the last year or so (There's an actual doom community? Like a commune run by burnouts on downers? Now, there's an idea for a reality TV show...), Ritual Abuse is their second full-length album proper. Picture a drug fuelled hellride through tortured, painful crawls across broken glass. Opener “Mind Collapse” does exactly what it says on the label – like a slow motion collision between Electric Wizard, Reverend Bizarre at their most obtuse, and the filthy antics of Iron Monkey.
Elsewhere, stand out track “Crippled Wizard,” which almost impossibly reminds me of Dactylis Glomerata -era Candlemass, with mangled vocals and degenerate riffs, manages to elevate the art of depravity to new levels. A fun ride through infectious, bouncy riffs this ain't.
Anyone expecting any stoner friendly riffs is going to be incredibly disappointed; those of us seeking depressive soundscapes and feedback-drenched voyages of uncomfortable discovery through the human psyche are bound to find something akin to catharsis here.
An incredibly strong, though not by any means easy, listen, Ritual Abuse might well be the official soundtrack to bad times. Tune in, turn up and give in.
Cough Official MySpace
Desultory Counting Our Scars
By: Chris Davison
Well, I thought I had better go and do some research before launching into this review. See, way back in the day (as we old timers are want to say), in the cold mists of 1996, I bought Swallow The Snake by Desultory. The album had been really highly praised in Terrorizer Magazine back then (I wasn't a Usenet user, and there really weren't very many Internet sites going that had reviews back then), so, therefore, I went the whole hog and bought that very same album without even the basic precaution of a pre-purchase listen. The thing is, Swallow The Snake was a complete and utter pig’s ear of an album. It stunk worse than a bag of cheese left in the sun and stitched under a car seat for post-relationship revenge. An uninspired, boring morass of death n' roll nonsense, it has remained on my “do not play” pile pretty much ever since.
Counting Our Scars can't be the same Desultory, quoth I, listening to the proper melodic death metal of opener “In A Cage”. Except that, it is. Perhaps the intervening fourteen years have given the Swedish chaps a bit of time to reflect on what exactly it was that they had thrown away all those years ago when they had gone for the big riff and the easy groove. In any case, this is a Desultory that has returned with all the fire of their heyday, and with a renewed vigour and vitality.
Musically, this is pretty much a half way house between the melodic slant on death metal, with some nice clean guitar breaks here and there amid tasty axe work wrought into numbers such as “Ready to Bleed,” and a rougher, quintessentially Swedish take on the notion of old school death metal. This is an album that sounds professional and quite polished, with the vocals and guitar work in particular being stand outs – the former being a hoarse, furious roar, the latter being either scything and cutting in the cleaner sections, or bludgeoning and blunt with the main riffing.
To be honest, Counting Our Scars isn’t going to reinvent the world, though it does have a certain appeal, not least from knowing that these veterans of the scene have been able to pick up their instruments and pretty much place themselves back onto the same elevated level as their peers. While not quite as punishing as, say, Evocation with their recent Apocalyptic, it does at least hold just as much attention as the recent Necronaut album, and sounds a whole lot less contrived than that album.
Now that the chaps have got the aggression back in their souls, let's hope that Desultory won't leave it another fourteen years before their next release.
Editor: I reviewed this album, as well, soon to be published at About.com.