Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Cough - Sigillum Luciferi. 85/100.

I never realised before just a second ago that Cough remind me of a combination of three bands I already enjoy and have liked for some time now; Corrupted from Japan, Electric Wizard from England and Ancestors from America, just like Cough. When I first discovered this band, I was attracted by some of the song titles and even the intriguing record name, ‘Sigillum Luciferi’, which sounds like some sort of black metal incantation. Of course, the leap from black metal to this is a long and diverse way that will have many of us lost along the transition. Comparing the two genres is like comparing the countryside of England, with its luscious rolling hills and endless fields, with the stunning landscapes of places like America and even obscured lands like Australia, that essentially has it all in terms of landscapes -- from dense rain forests to scarcely populated deserts -- these lands are able to provide the tourist with a package deal that contains almost everything. Everything except subtle beauty.

I once read in a novel entitled ‘The Remains of the Day’ by Kazuo Ishiguro that although the countryside of England may not be as outstanding as the mountains of America, or canyons that seemingly drop to the depths of hell, but is subtle beauty is worth more than what it first appears and, given that, it achieves a much more pleasurable feelings in the voyeur than places like America who’s beauty is artificial in comparison to the subtleties of the colourful and rolling hills that are inhabited by some of the most timid animals you’re likely to come across. Like England’s subtle appeal, Cough offer much the same feeling as their subtle comparisons and possible influences weave their ways around the soundscapes with dramatic affects and in much the same way we first saw on the creation of films like Donnie Darko, where Donnie’s soul is transported out of his body and guides him to mischief. These subtle occurrences within the songs show us that we should judge the record based on the inner workings, the base, the core, rather than resting our opinions on the outside where shallow perceptions are created and thus ending our affiliation with the bands we’re judging.

Although it is difficult to do so, judging a band with a clean and concise mind is essential, especially when you’re dealing with bands who play within styles you’re either A) not entirely comfortable with or B) know very little about. In terms of this three piece hybrid, I am a little surprised at a number of things going on within the record and that are taking place on the impacting outside. First, there is only one guitarist contributing to this piece. This surprising me. Not only is doom a particularly heavy genre, but when interspersed with sludge, another heavy genre itself in differing ways, I would have expected two guitarists to be laying down the foundations, as opposed to one and the bassist. However, the soundscapes produce heavy atmospheres that entrance the listener as they evolve with the record at slow speeds. Cough consist of musicians who are capable of achieving their goals in one movement, without the use of more musicians on top of the already significant soundscapes that deserves superlatives of the highest order. Back to a previous point on comparisons.

I suppose when Cough exemplify a sound that reminds the listeners of the astral ways of Ancestors, given the distant and surprising clean vocals that are sparsely used to great affect, the heaviness of the bass and guitars that leans partially towards the stoner genre too, which is where the Electric Wizard vibe comes into play (as well as the clean vocals which are reminiscent of Jus’ vocals on mid-era records like the infamous ‘Dopethrone’ -- with the guitars really hitting the heights of this particular record on songs like the rhythmically pleasing ‘288 Years of Sin’), the band are strangely deceptive. The first half of this record split’s the possible influences down the middle, with Corrupted coming out on top to begin with, due to the heavy depictions of bass and soundscapes that rely on the heaviness to penetrate the listeners mind. As the record begins to flow seamlessly, the band generate a feel for Ancestors in their use of astral projections in the soundscapes that conjure images of nature, space and eternity.

The further down the record we go, the more the band starts to implement European characteristics into the approach, giving them an established feel to the potentially universal sound they’ve already developed up until now. Then, finally, there are even more subtle influences seeping through into the instrumentation and aggressive soundscapes on songs like ‘Northern Plague’, which bring back memories of hateful sludge bands like Dystopia, given the experimentation with samples and vocals (the band seems to use two vocalists, whom can sometimes mesh together in sound making me unable to distinguish them). This is a ploy Dystopia apply to their own sound too, using a number of vocalists whom each have different styles which ultimately culminates in a fresh, dynamic feel. The record ends on a high note before it becomes too repetitive and too monotonous for my liking. So, as it ends, my opinion of this band begins to shimmer down and my feet are firmly planted to the ground. I know what I like about this band because their approach is honest and doesn’t consist of any bullshit to make it seem like what it is not. ‘Sigillum Luciferi’ has confusingly seen little attention around here and hopefully, that is about to change.

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