Comus - Out Of The Coma
Comus rather miraculously rose from the dead a couple of years ago at the behest of Opeth's Mikael Åketfeldt, and some forty one years after their now legendary debut First Utterance, we have some new Comus material to warp our poor brains. Pretending the disappointing second album - the label-directed To Keep From Crying - didn't happen, Out Of The Coma is the sophomore record they should have made back in 1972. Not only does the artwork hark back to the former, but the second half is part one of the ambitious suite that had originally been planned as the follow-up.
But before that, we have three tracks written post-reunion. All have been road-tested in the past couple of years in the few appearances Comus have deigned to make, in the hope that all the creases have been ironed out. This is very much the Comus we all love with the almost ragged, unhinged approach to playing and singing, the undiluted and unpretentious acid folk that they went a long way to introducing to the world. This may seem controversial given the vertigo-inducingly high regard First Utterance is held in, but these twenty two minutes are the finest this band have committed to tape.
Both the title track and 'The Sacrifice' have a heaviness that would have been unimaginable, and probably impalpable, in the folk revival scene four decades ago; this merely adds to the sense of madness and psychotic paranoia Comus so wonderfully evoke. The last of the trio, 'The Return' is a more intimate, darker affair that is more in keeping with their original incarnation, casting its aura of unease in more subtle tones. Most importantly, all three are memorable tunes that easily lodge in the brain and take up permanent residence.
This mysterious lost recording that finishes off Out Of The Coma is the only known documentation of part one of 'The Malgaard Suite', both sections of which were what Comus themselves envisioned as album number two before various labels crushed that dream. Recorded from the audience back in 1971, it comes as little surprise that the quality is somewhat lacking. Even with careful restoration and some digital trickery, it still sounds like what it is – a very old bootleg. As interesting as it is to the more ardent section of the fan base, it is still nothing more than a flawed curio that deserves a few courtesy listens, but not much more.
In an age where trying to live on past glories has become all too commonplace, it is a relief to find a band that have not only got something new to say and do, but to do it better than before. Welcome back Comus.