Comets on Fire
hen you name yourselves “Comets on Fire,” you should be expected to be apocalyptical—all white horses, Jonathan Edwards and musical Armageddon. And yes, that means you, Ben Chasny of folk outfit Six Organs of Admittance, and the rest of ye signers-of-Sub-Pop-record-deals. (Who isn’t peeved that less than a decade ago, there was the Sub Pop 200 compilation in all its Rocking-with-a-capital-R glory, and now they’re making indie pop rock-with-a-lower-case-r samplers for American Eagle shoppers?) With their previous two efforts—a self-titled debut and 2002’s Field Recordings from the Sun—Comets on Fire established themselves as wholly deserving of whatever infernal identity they’d choose to adopt as their own. So, it comes as no surprise, then, that Blue Cathedral, the band’s most recent effort, is all about progress—a step forward for the band and a veritable (not to mention absorbing) step back in time for Sub Pop.
From the onset of Blue Cathedral, the band lets you know that this isn’t your mother’s psychedelic-rock—not for the most part, anyway. “The Bee and the Crackin’ Egg” recalls stuff of the seventies—glints of Robert Plant in Ethan Miller’s vocal delivery (incomprehensible at best, but I surely don’t care, do you?), traces of Pink Floyd, and guitar hooks that sound eerily familiar, however revved up. Comets on Fire should be all long hair and crotch-stuffed pants, but they’re not, and possibly better for it. While Comet’s debut LP was about showing off their punk roots and Field Recordings of the Sun was all musical hell breaking loose, Blue Cathedral strikes a welcome balance between chaos and order (though gone is the blatant punkiness of their debut). “Pussy Footin’ The Duke,” the album’s second track, starts off resembling the soundtrack to some Nintendo game circa 1993, and then sounds like it might as well be a Deerhoof cover until a brilliantly laid-back electric guitar asserts that, well, it isn’t either. Comets on Fire have more than proven themselves worthy to rock, with their previous two releases and unique brand of psych-rock that’s at once schizophrenic, furious, and plenty loud. And thanks to Chasny, on other tracks like “Organs,” “Wild Whiskey,” and “Brotherhood of the Harvest”, the group proves itself able to take things down a notch, with frequently impressive results.
Without downgrading the band’s previous records, Blue Cathedral is a job well-done—arguably their best to date. Uninhibited and hushed in all the right places, it’s safe to say that Comets on Fire have hit their stride.
Reviewed by: Rachel Khong
Reviewed on: 2004-07-30