If a spaceship crash-landed in a bourbon-swilling state like Louisiana or Kentucky, the soundtrack reverberating through the smoky haze of smoldering metal would be Comets on Fire's Blue Cathedral. With their latest release, these Bay Area hellbenders up the noise-rock ante, punctuating a crisper sound with deafening angst and matured restraint.
Playing an oddly sensitive brand of big-sound alpha-male rock, Comets on Fire are inherently at odds with themselves. Blue Cathedral is poignant in the right places, and underneath the wall of fury, tracks carry a melodic cadence. With the aid of the Echoplex, a vocal-warping device that churns Ethan Miller's howls into an orphaned but cognizant language, tracks like "Whiskey River" and "Blue Tomb" establish themselves as wood-paneled rec room material, best experienced through a mental and physical fog. Elsewhere, on tracks like "Brotherhood of the Harvest," the incorporation of noirish organs sounds eerily like a late-'70s Italian horror flick score. This is noise woven into a brash prog/psych package, producing sonic rage that's astonishingly easy on the ears. -- Kelly Shindler