Culled together on the aptly titled Forcefield Records split release, An Introduction to the Black Arts, two of next-gen occult doom’s brightest (bleakest?) team up for more than 34 minutes of torturous musical sprawl. Dartmoor’s The Wounded Kings and Richmond, Virginia’s Cough reportedly got in touch with each other before any label got involved; drawn, no doubt, by their mutual predilection for riff-led worship and affection for the genre’s forebears. If the UK and US outfits have anything in common other than riffs, feedback and plod, it’s probably an affection for Electric Wizard, though that comes out more on Cough’s 18:36 “The Gates of Madness” than The Wounded Kings’ 15:03 “Curse of Chains,” which takes a less blatantly Oborn-ian approach and shares more in concept than strict execution with the band’s Dorset countrymen and adds more traditional doom to the mix.
“The Gates of Madness” was recorded by Sanford Parker at the same time Cough put to tape their recently-released Relapse Records debut, Ritual Abuse. They showed their love of Electric Wizard there, and follow suit on this extended cut, blending in screamed vocals as well to add notes of aggressive individuality, more in line with their 2008 Forcefield debut, Sigillum Luciferi. The difference, though, isn’t so great that anyone who heard and/or dug Ritual Abuse is going to be particularly surprised by “The Gates of Madness,” and rather, I’d argue that Cough’s Side A contribution to An Introduction to the Black Arts is an opportunity for those who couldn’t get enough of their sound on the sophomore outing to once more sample their heavier, more abrasive side. With droning, ultra-low tones and lumber sufficient enough to build a house, Cough easily justify the buzz they’ve been getting lately.