Cough / Windhand: Reflection of the Negative

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Cough / Windhand: Reflection of the Negative
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Cough / Windhand: Reflection of the Negative
Doom Metal, Sludge Metal, Stoner Metal
Relapse Records
April 16th, 2013
Release length: 36:42
Cough:
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Windhand:
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Relapse Records is the playground of some of the most respected Doom, Sludge, and Stoner Metal bands to walk the face of the Earth. So, when you bring together the lesser known Windhand, a new signing to the label with an impending second full-length due later this year, and the label’s current titans of brutality, Cough, one can only imagine the split release to become a milestone in the history of this style. Each band is given eighteen minutes to lay the listener to waste, bringing three songs that expand and introduce you to both groups. But, do the bands take advantage of this split, or is Reflection of the Negative far from either group’s best?

This split kicks off with Cough‘s eighteen and a half minute long “Athame,” greeting the listener with a surprisingly crisp and haunting performance with slower paced drumming and eery keyboards that sound as though they came straight out of a Horror movie from the sixties or seventies. The guitar chords creep along, offering up a crushing distortion that fills the initially hollow audio perfectly. The distorted and distant shouting offers a hint of nightmarish landscapes littered with some mild suffering as well. Sadly, it does start to drag out, but about half way through, things change from unnerving to trippy thanks to the focus on the guitars and rhythmic pattern behind the lead chords, as well as the ritual chanting approach in the vocals, all of which gives up just shy of the thirteen minute mark. Sadly, this feels more like filler since it serves no real purpose other than restraining the impact of the dismal atmosphere by pretty much removing it for a few minutes, only to bring the established sound back from the grave for the last five.

Windhand present a different approach to this split release entirely. “Amaranth” kicks in with a thick Stoner Metal performance at a moderately slower pace. The clean vocals have a nice echo to them, and are a bit distant in the mix. The atmosphere is a little more upbeat, but still heavy, and sometimes crushing with plenty of infectious hooks at a louder level that help them come through on a grander scale. It ends up a bit on the psychadelic side, but not as much as “Shephard’s Crook” thanks to the astral effects scattered about, showing up right away on some of the guitar chords at the start, all working with the distant echoed clean singing. That space-like environment doesn’t stuck around too long, being dropped a little less than half way in, but, in all honesty, this cut actually sounds a lot better without that hint of atmosphere. “Shephard’s Crook” isn’t as upbeat or enthusiastic as “Amaranth,” but it is pretty down to Earth, making it a superb choice to kick back and mellow out to, with or without a vice of your choice.

Reflection of the Negative is a noble attempt, but it just doesn’t quite feel like the best each group could offer. In fact, all three songs easily could have ended much earlier than they do, especially “Athame” by Cough. Windhand do change things up a bit though, and in a more fluid manner than their partners in crime here, showing how well they can operate in both an upbeat, as well as slower, sobering manner, which is a nice way to get your foot in the door for those who have yet to hear what you bring to the table. Reflections of the Negative isn’t really a bad split, and does have its shining moments, especially when it comes to atmosphere, but it ends up more like a companion piece to both group’s most recent releases, both of which easily dwarf these three songs.

Cough:
01. Athame – 18:31

Windhand:
02. Amaranth – 7:25
03. Shephard’s Crook – 10:46

Initial Pressing Score: 7/10

Cough / Windhand
Cough / Windhand

Cough / Windhand
Cough / Windhand

Digital review copy of this release provided by Relapse Records via Earsplit PR.