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First Utterance

1 rating: 5.0
An album by Comus

Comus' first album contains an imaginative if elusive brand of experimental folk-rock, with a tense and sometimes distressed vibe. At times, this straddles the border between folk-rock and the kind of songs you'd expect to be sung at a witches' … see full wiki

Tags: Music, Pop, Rock, Albums
1 review about First Utterance

Comus for a good price!

  • Aug 29, 2004
Comus' _First Utterance_ is one of the creepiest, weirdest prog albums to ever come out of Britain, and also one of my favorites. It has only been available as a Japanese import for a long, long time, and you know how expensive those usually are. But finally it looks like it is available for a more competitive price. I encourage you to check it out.

Here is my review for the Japanese import, the musical content of which is the same. The import comes in one of those awesome mini-vinyl sleeve things (like the reissues of the King Crimson back catalogue up to _THRAK_); I don't know how this one is packaged, but hopefully it's cool, because an album like this deserves more than a cheap azz jewel case.

"I heard about Comus reading an interview with Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt. He has very interesting taste in some very obscure 70s bands, and mentioned Comus so I thought they might be good. I knew nothing about the band except that they took their name from a John Milton poem, and my only expectation (judging from the disfigured wretch on the cover) was that it would be a dark album. I never expected it to be so good. This is one of my "desert island albums" for sure, because of its unique sound and power.

"How to describe it for someone who doesn't want to rush in blindly like myself? One critic described it as "a cross between a frenzied version of the witches chorus from Macbeth and Marc Bolan being squeezed to death." Ok. Well, at its core it is based in idioms of British folk music, but it is fusionized and rendered with a harsh, dissonant strikes with aliens bursting from the chest cavity. It can be rather heavy music -- not metal or hard rock heavy, but heavy in the atonal ferocity with which they are capable of attack their instruments with at times. I never thought acoustic instruments could sound so nasty. That raises another point: Comus' music is almost entirely acoustic -- acoustic guitar, electric bass, hand drums, flute, violin (and a little bit of electric guitar). This gives the album a very stark sound which adds to the genuineness of their doomy, dark fantasy world. The complex arrangements and rocking power of this band are tremendous. This band can rip it up like Gentle Giant or mystify with haunting musical landscapes like King Crimson (without sounding like either). The vocals run a remarkable gamut, from evil munchkin snarls to wispy female vocals to normal male singing.

"Musically and lyrically, Comus evokes visions of pre-Christian pagan nature worship -- but this is starkly anti-Romanticist, dark, paranoid and vengeful. Just listen to the first song "Diana": goblin-like voices sing is a very credible hymn en masse to the eponymous goddess. The lyrics are twisted and sometimes violent. Some good examples: "Chastity chaser virile for the virgin's virtue | Excite her exciter you better go before you bleed and he hurts you | He chased the chaste you better leave if you value your virtue" from "Song to Comus"; "Your soft white flesh turns past me slaked with blood | Your evil eyes more damning than a demon's curse | Your lovely body soon caked with mud | As I carry you to your grave my arms your hearse" from "Drip Drip". (The attentive Opeth fan will notice that this is where Mikael Akerfeldt's took the name for Opeth's third album, which is easily one of their best albums too.)

"The reason for Comus' obscurity is obvious. This is disturbing and weird music, but beneath the woe is a strange beauty, entrancing like a dark fairytale. Most people will aggressively dislike this, but on the other hand it may appeal to many different sorts: in general anyone interested in weird & dark music; Opeth fans (especially if you think _Damnation_ would sound good if it was less sad and just weirder, darker and more primitive); anti-symph prog fans might enjoy this too, and perhaps even the few 70s symph fans that are more inclined to weirdness and WYRDNESS; fans of very weird folk music; the uncommon fan of Scandanavian black metal who has a coterminous interest in dark folk music; and perhaps fans of the band Agalloch.

"You will not find an album like Comus' _First Utterance_ anywhere. I suggest you check it out. Don't let the steep import price deter you, it's worth every penny. It's especially great if you listen to it in the forest at night with a full moon. Once you "get" it with maximum perspective, I think you will have to agree that it is one of the best albums to ever come from Britain."

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First Utterance
Label: Phantom Sound & Vision
Artist: Comus
Release Date: December 28, 2004

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