8 May 2012

Comus - Out Of The Coma

Reviewed By The Active Listener. (6/10)

Some record labels don't know when to leave well enough alone. After a masterful debut album, Comus were harassed by their label Dawn Records into producing a woeful, commercially oriented followup and then, when working on a more suitable follow up, continual label interference ( "Can you cut that fifteen minute suite down into a 3 minute single for us? Ta." ) led to the band jumping ship and calling it a day. It's dismaying that a label set up as an outlet for underground music would take this approach with such an adventurous band. Comus were never a verse chorus verse hit machine. It's not like they'd signed the Beatles.
That would have been the end of the story if not for superfan Mikael Akerfelt of Opeth who convinced the band to reform for a festival in 2010.
The band had such a good time that they've now put together this release with three new songs, and an archive recording of the Malgard Suite (the piece the band were working on for their third album).
The three new pieces are uniformly excellent and finally offer us a suitable follow up to that great debut. "The Sacrifice" is particularly good with some wonderful flute work, while "The Return" does an admirable job of recapturing the diabolical Comus sound of old. Roger Wooton's vocals have matured in the intervening years to the point where he often sounds like Iron Maiden's Blaze Bayley. Make of that what you will.
The recording of the Malgard Suite which makes up the second side of the album is the only known recording of the first half of the suite, and was recorded at a university gig with fairly rudimentary equipment. The sound quality is predictably poor, sounding strangely like a very heavily compressed MP3, which makes this more an article of historic interest than something one is likely to listen to on a regular basis, although enough pokes it's head through the murk to make one curious. With the band doing such a good job of recording the new material, it begs the question of whether including a rerecording wouldn't have been a better idea. There's always hope that the band will record a new version, with the unrecorded second part that Roger Wooton mentions on his spoken introduction finding a home finally too.
In the meantime we can marvel that this album even exists and that one of the most interesting bands of the seventies has taken the opportunity to add to their legacy, and that they've done such a fine job of it.

You Can Buy Out Of The Coma On CD Here

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