Comus
First Utterance


5.0
classic

Review

by username345 USER (52 Reviews)
December 2nd, 2008 | 32 replies | 3,438 views


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A twisted, scary & bizarre mix of folk, prog and psychedelia. Very experimental and ahead of its time.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

When most people think of folk music, what comes to mind is usually calm, mellow and relaxing music like Nick Drake or Iron & Wine. In 1971 though, Comus created something completely unique and amazingly ahead of its time, mixing folk with progressive rock and psychedelia. Instead of being gentle and mellow, First Utterance is frantic, haunting and just plain evil sounding.

First Utterance is hard to compare to anything else really. There is some influence that can be heard in the unsettling atmosphere of Current 93's style of 'apocalyptic folk', but the only album that really sounds remotely similar is Spirogyra's St. Radigunds which was released in the same year, though that is not quite as experimental and is not nearly the same quality.

Comus use violins, acoustic guitars, flute, hand-drums, oboe and bass, the only electric instrument to appear, to create their unique sound which could probably be best described as sounding like a very demented sped-up version of Jethro Tull. The complex, energetic drumming gives the album a tribal feeling that along with the twisted folk melodies creates a perfect dark atmosphere. First Utterance sounds like the music that should be played at a bizarre pagan ritual in the middle of a dark forest, complete with human sacrifices.

Despite the grim atmosphere, the music is actually very upbeat and catchy which helps bring to life the images of pagan festivals, almost making it seem as if the listener is at one himself. All of the melodies, often played on violin or flute are completely memorable and brilliantly written. The songs are mostly lengthy and complicated, but the music still manages to be very accessible if you can get past the bizarreness of it because it is all very catchy.

The lyrics, partly inspired by John Milton's masque also named 'Comus', don't disappoint at all, fitting in perfectly with the theme. They are definitely not for the faint-hearted or easily offended though, describing such pleasant things as rape, murder, more rape, being imprisoned in a mental asylum, and hanging a Christian. Despite the dark subject matter, the lyrics are always well written and gripping. Opeth fans would recognise the lines 'As I carry you to your grave my arms your hearse' and 'And she knows by the sound of the baying, by the baying of the hounds' as that is where they got some of their album/song titles from.

The lead singer, Roger Wootton sings in a quite high pitched and unique style. The singing fits the music, sounding equally as demented and sinister, but the odd style could mean that it's an acquired taste for some. However, there are some very catchy vocal melodies that you could even sing along to – at least if you want to sound like a psychopath to anyone close by.

Several other singers sing back-up vocals, most noticeably Bobbie Watson, who's ethereal and ghostly singing contrasts perfectly with Wootton. She also sings lead vocals on one track, 'The Herald', which is different to the other tracks as it is slow and atmospheric, containing none of the violence that can be found in the rest of the album. However, thanks to Watson's haunting vocals and an unsettling slide bass, the song sounds tense and unnerving, fitting in with the album's dark mood perfectly. The only song that really sounds at all weaker than the rest is the short instrumental, 'Bitten', although even this is still quite good and is too short to be a real problem.

Overall, First Utterance is a brilliant album, though it may be too strange for many, which is why it never sold well on release and the second Comus album was a disastrous attempt at making commercialised folk-rock. For anyone interested in some very experimental and unique music though, First Utterance is a must have.



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user ratings (187)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
bloodsorcery (4.5)
...

SubtleDagger (4)
Groundbreaking early '70's act invokes progressive, folk, and psychedelic rock all at once....

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Progressive folk band from the 1970s pushes the bounds of avant garde music....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
username345
December 2nd 2008



594 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Too many 4.5's here. I'm the only person to give this a 5... =(

bastard
December 2nd 2008



3435 Comments


i was wondering when you were going to do this.

joshuatree
Emeritus
December 2nd 2008



3743 Comments


album is alright

fireaboveicebelow
December 2nd 2008



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

at first listen it was just alright but then my second listen I thought "holy hell I am in love" so maybe a 5 eventually?

username345
December 2nd 2008



594 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hell yes a 5. I feel left out here =(

Willie
Moderator
December 3rd 2008



15897 Comments


OK, you've caught my attention, I'll check this out... nice review too ;)

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

Mendigo
December 3rd 2008



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It doesn't need to grow a lot more to turn into a 5 for me. but right now I'll stick with the 4.5
I completely agree with the review btw, nothing left to mention imo. this album needs a lot more recognition.

Iai
Emeritus
December 3rd 2008



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

One of the 50 best albums ever made maybe

fireaboveicebelow
December 5th 2008



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

man, this is at a 4.9999 right now, PUSH ME OVER THE EDGE

username345
December 5th 2008



594 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Just give it a 5! Round up, that's closer to 5 than 4.5...This Message Edited On 12.05.08

fireaboveicebelow
December 5th 2008



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

OK :thumb:

but its not quite there yet This Message Edited On 12.05.08

TheGreatD17
February 1st 2009



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is a good review, but I don't really get what the big deal with this album is. It's okay, but weird does nothing for me. Of the obscure 70s albums that I've come across, this is one of my least favorites.

fireaboveicebelow
February 1st 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

what's some of your favorites

lauriej
April 27th 2009



1711 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ya album rules, whats with the 3? i thought this wasnt worth the hype on first listen, i too started to love it on second listen. 4 or 4.5 here.

fireaboveicebelow
July 30th 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

play play play play play play play....ughhhhhhhh

lyrical geniuses

TricksterGRex
July 30th 2009



2087 Comments


DRIP DRIP

FROM YOUR SAGGING LIP

TheGreatD17
August 12th 2009



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

what's some of your favorites

Severely delayed response: Blackwater Park, Cressida, Flower Travellin' Band, Gravy Train, Lucifer's Friend, Nosferatu, Spring, Stray Dog, and Thrice Mice are all bands who made albums I prefer.

TheCouchAstronaut
October 1st 2013



39 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is the bees knees

FourthReich
October 1st 2013



17293 Comments


it is but i do like exuma more now tho

SCREAM!
April 3rd 2014



10020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This still sounds ahead of it's time in 2014 god damn

Digging: Old Witch - Come Mourning Come



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