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Comus - First Utterance CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.14 | 506 ratings

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5 stars It was only recently that I heard about Comus and after reading a couple of reviews of their first album First Utterance my curiosity was piqued. This is one of those 'love it or hate it' albums and it's easy to see why... This is not an easy listen. It is dark, uncomfortable and can feel directionless at times. I had a great deal of trouble with how I should rate this album, on the one hand I feel the album deserves respect for taking the risks it did and having them pull off so well, on the other hand (as I mentioned earlier) the album can feel directionless and it's easy to lose focus on it.

It's an album that you have to listen to very carefully, all of the subtle nuances and minor shifts in the music can be lost at first listen. It's a challenging record that fortunately I feel will pay off for most listeners.

I found out about Comus (like a great deal of people nowadays) through Mikael Akerfeldt who has been plugging the band for a great many years now. Naming songs (Baying of the Hounds), albums (My Arms, Your Hearse) and various lyrical content directly from this album.

I've seen a number of reviewers complain that this isn't prog, that it would be better described as something like 'acid folk' which I can't precisely argue. Nonetheless the album has progressive elements strewn throughout, not to mention symphonic and jazzy moments that couldn't simply be pigeonholed under 'acid folk' either. Of course this is all arguing semantics, the music is entirely progressive, best shown through songs like 'The Herald' and 'Drip Drip'.

Pulling in influences from jazz, folk, rock, psych, african drumming, choral music, gospel, blues any many other places this album is eclectic to say the least. One reviewer said that this might be what Crimson would sound like had they gone prog which I think sums the sound up quite well.

I do find the first half to be (if only a little bit) stronger than the second. That being said 'Song to Comus' and 'The Prisoner' from the second half are extremely strong. To be quite honest I don't think there is a weak song on the album but, in some way, everything begins to feel like a letdown after 'The Herald' / 'Drip Drip'.

That being said this is some of the most adventurous, technical and, at times, beautiful music I have ever heard. This album has been on non stop repeat for the last week and every time it plays I am more and more fascinated by it, everything just seems to fit together so beautifully. Never have I heard an album where the lyrics match the music so perfectly and every song seems to depict it's meaning in every way. Strong lyrical content and, more importantly, fitting said lyrics with the music is a real unique gift that seems to be missing from far too much prog rock.

The vocals play over top of each other and all compliment each other extremely well, even if all vocalists aside from the female vocalist aren't what you would call, talented or even good vocalists, I don't feel as though it would fit anywhere outside of this music but that just goes to make the music all the more unique and magical. The album is a roller coaster that at times you may want to get off, afterwards though, you'll be glad you went along for the ride.

For its complex musicianship, challenging compositions, driven sound, adventurous nature and stunning lyrics this album deserves no less than 5 stars.

MJAben | 5/5 |


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