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Comus - First Utterance CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.16 | 651 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars COMUS were a dark, paganistic Prog-Folk band who crept out of the shadows from Bromley in Kent in 1969. The nighmarish music of Comus was reflected in the ghoulish image on their first album cover, "First Utterance" (1971). Comus' first unearthly album is their best-known album by far. They followed it up with the "To Keep from Crying" album in 1974 which passed by virtually unnoticed by the record buying public. The band got together again in 2012 for the long-awaited comeback album, aptly-titled "Out of the Coma", which contained three new songs as well as featuring songs from a 1972 live session. It's time to descend into the dark abyss now and check out the "First Utterance" album. The 2001 CD reissue added three bonus tracks to the original seven songs on the album.

The first spooky song "Diana" conjures up a dark satanic image of nefarious goings-on at a witches coven. The focus of this supernatural hocus pocus hokum is mainly on the unsettling violins and off-kilter harmonising from the witches choir giving the music a dark macabre sinister edge. It's creepy and disturbing folk (although that's no reflection on the band members themselves) which is very reminiscent of the eerie folk music in the paganistic horror movie, "The Wicker Man" starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. The hair-raising lyrics to "Diana" are pretty scary too:- "Lust he follows virtue close, Through the steaming woodlands, His darkened blood through bulging veins, Through the steaming woodlands." ..... It's enough to send a shiver up the spine and give you a touch of the heebie-jeebies. You might be tempted to leave the lights on at night after listening to this creepy witches brew of Halloween music, but try not to have nightmares. The next song "The Herald" is a 12-minute Psych-Folk masterpiece, which still has the same sinister air of a midnight mass at a witches coven, but it's a strangely beautiful song at the same time. The music is carried along on a wave of gently rippling guitar strings and violins with the hauntingly-beautiful vocals of Bobbie Watson sounding somehow sweet and angelic, so maybe she's a harmless white witch and not a dark satanic black witch after all. If the first two songs haven't already given you the creeps though, then the third song "Drip Drip" surely will. The music is a 10-minute-long barrelling ghost train ride, ending in a helter-skelter Psych- Folk frenzy, featuring some absolutely manic violin playing and tortured and strangulated vocals from lead singer Roger Wootton. The lyrics are very dark and disturbing too so I won't recite them here, other than to say, the "Drip Drip" refers to the drips of blood from a hanging corpse. Enough said. This is definitely not the kind of folk album you'd want to buy your dear old aunt for Christmas as it'd probably scare the living daylights out of her.

The seven and a half minute "Song to Comus" opens Side Two. It's a dark and disturbing tale of a damsel in distress having her virginity forcibly taken by the monstrous Comus of the title. The music is an infectious fluty Prog-Folk number which sounds like a mad and unhinged version of Jethro Tull. The demented vocalist is clearly going ever so slightly mad here, sounding like a deranged inmate on day release from a lunatic asylum, where "care in the community" clearly hasn't worked. It brings to mind the manic 1966 novelty record "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" ..... Watch out! There's a werewolf about in the next song "The Bite". This guitar, violin and flute melody gallops along at an absolutely insane pace, with the musicians barely coming up for air in this manic 5-minute psychedelic freak-out. The dark mood deepens with "Bitten", a brief 2-minute instrumental, featuring the lonely sound of a mournful violin. The final song "The Prisoner" is another manic manifestation of deeply disturbing music, which takes us on a terrifying paranoid schizophrenic ride to hell. It's quite literally a tale of sheer lunacy, because it's all about a disturbed mental patient being given electro-convulsive "therapy" against their will. It's shocking! "The Prisoner" is pretty scary, but it's probably not as scary as the thought of watching back to back episodes of Prisoner Cell Block H.

Dare you enter the weird and sinister world of Comus? There's nowt so Wyrd as the paganistic freaky folk of Comus. This unsettling and disturbing Psych-Folk music is as unnerving as a stay in a haunted house on the night of a full moon during a thunderstorm at Halloween. This frightfully good album contains more Black Magic than a box of dark chocolates. It's a dark descent into madness, death, witchcraft and supernatural fairy tales, but it's also a very good album too. "First Utterance" might not appeal to Prog-Rock fans generally, but if you're in the mood for a scary Friday the 13th outbreak of infectious freaky folk, then this might just be the album for you. Just make sure you secure all of the doors and windows before settling down to listen to this dark and menacing album in the middle of the night, because you never know who or what might be lurking out there in the darkness.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |


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