Cough/Windhand
Reflection of the Negative Split EP

Split EP’s are a good idea in theory but are often a mixed bag in quality. Whether it’s one band clearly out-playing the other, inconsistent recording quality, or its generally skimpy length, the concept doesn’t always hit the mark. This latest offering from Relapse Records pits Windhand and Cough head to head, and the two rising upstarts from Richmond, Virginia deliver some primo examples of quality doom/sludge. Comprised of a mere three songs, the stretched-out length of the EP is a hefty 36 minutes, comparable to a full-length album. Cough kick-off proceedings with their epic track “Athame”, a filthy 18-minute dose of dense, misanthropic sludge-doom. It’s not for the faint hearted but for those willing to invest some time and patience into the intense experience, the apocalyptic vibe and dark, hate-filled journey has plenty of merit. Of course Cough’s portion of the EP very much fits into the ‘mood metal’ category due to its despondent atmosphere and sluggish, drawn-out gait but when the mood is right it’s hard not to admire the deranged menace and emotion that bleeds from its pores.

Windhand released one of the more underrated doom offerings last year with their excellent self-titled album. The good news is on the back of this EP the band has inked a deal with Relapse and are set to drop a brand new full-length sometime this year. After some debacles in the pressing and releasing of their debut, hopefully the resources and marketing power behind the Relapse juggernaut will bring the band’s quality, psych-tinged doom the attention it greatly deserves. If the two tracks the band supplied for this EP are any indication their sophomore album will be one to place firmly on the radar for must-have doom releases this year. The tripped-out haze that blanketed their debut remains in place however, the atmosphere created is definitely on the darker side. Their sound continues to borrow from the earthy roots of doom, spiced with their own unique flavour and bookended by the wonderfully dreamy vocals of Dorthia Cottrell.

Although the two songs they provide here are steeped in darker, melancholic tones, in comparison to Cough’s draining assault of the senses Windhand’s style of doom is decidedly more upbeat and jam-oriented. “Amaranth” and “Shepherd’s Crook” feature winding arrangements, haunting doom riffs and some real sonic firepower to drench the songs in the thick, weighty tones befitting of their style. Following the understated, fuzzy production of the debut Windhand has gone for a much bigger sound this time around and to these ears it has given the band a great boost. Meanwhile, Cottrell’s voice floats with an ethereal grace atop the meaty platform of dark, fuzzed-out grooves. Her vocals sound a little rougher around the edges without losing their distinct charm.

Reflection of the Negative whets the appetite and builds anticipation for future releases from both of these excellent bands and although Windhand gets the personal nod, Cough deliver their own appealing brand of extremity to the platter. Overall, this is a high quality split that hints at great things to come from these talented young bands.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
April 29th, 2013

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