Music News

Comets on Fire

Eureka! Scientists just discovered that Comets on Fire is the missing link in rock 'n' roll evolution. The hard-hitting noiseniks provide the connection between late-'60s vintage Grateful Dead and Paranoid-era Black Sabbath, long theorized but until now never established. A few savvy researchers, including Comets themselves, saw this coming: The San Francisco Bay Area five-piece is indigenous to the Dead's original stomping grounds, and its earlier records were blues-based, psych-metal monuments, full of deafening riffs, droning electronic ambiance, and relentlessly hypnotic rhythms. With Avatar, Comets back off the volume, distill the distortion into eerie filigree, and take a logical step toward sonic refinement. Imagine Tommy Iomi jamming on Anthem of the Sun, the Dead's weird, trebly, 1967 studio joint. It's all there on Avatar — wiry, dual guitar interplay, muddled vocals, choogling bass lines, a sense of dark, open-ended experimentation tucked into cogent, six- to eight-minute songs. If you're a metal fan and snicker at the Dead's freewheeling ethic, you might rue the influence, but you can't deny it. And if you're a Deadhead, try something a little heavier. Both camps can come together and hesh out/get high to Comets on Fire. And the boys at the lab already proved you all have the same haircuts anyway.

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Jonathan Zwickel