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virus301 (2003) CD - $12.00
Comets on Fire are psycho-psyche freaks outta Santa Cruz. They encompass stoner rock and garage, but are more insane than anything in either genre.

This is their debut record that was released on vinyl only in 2001, and quickly went out of print as it was snapped up by all the local freaks. Comets on Fire deliver dark and damaged acid rock served in a crude and blown out speedball of Blue Cheer, High Rise, James Williamson and a blind-drunk Roxy Music-era Brian Eno.

Methamphetamine and Schnapps drenched lullabies take it straight into the sonic shit storm, shifting from 4/4 power rock to imploding free form. Echoplex treated tales of drug crazed space travelers, graverobbers in love, and cosmic cannibals.

Recorded by Comets on Fire onto 4-track with the levels in the bloody red in a basement and garage in Santa Cruz , California. Tinkering, mixing and sound manipulation by the band and Tim Green.

Features 6 sludge-fuzz drenched live tracks from an intense and great sounding show in 2000. This 30 minute set is not on the original vinyl and is exclusive to this cd-only release.

"Comets on Fire
[Alternative Tentacles; 2003]
Rating: 8.2
When a band's name fits its sound almost perfectly, further critical unpacking seems painfully superfluous. Perhaps comparable to an early '90s Blackjack cut-out, a gas-huffing Acid Mothers Temple, Monoshock-- especially the 1996 opus Walk To The Fire -- or an amphetamine-dosed Blue Cheer, the Santa Cruz quartet Comets on Fire creates sonic defibrillation through burning patch cords, distended Echoplex and endless reserves of frenetic rock-n-roll zeal; at their best, the jams are so all-encompassing and tightly suffocating, they let off a visionary flair, lighting up the nighttime sky of modern garage rock dreck, akin to the time you stumbled across the off-kilter pawnshop halo surrounding 13th Floor Elevators, or the freeform hippie stargazing of Angus Maclise's Brain Damage in Oklahoma City.

The band certainly deserves this reissue of its out-of-print 2001, vinyl-only debut, and the venerable Alternative Tentacles does one better, generously including six additional, sprawling songs recorded during a howling, raw concert in 2000 (and pre-dating last year's more eclectically tweaked Field Recordings From the Sun [Ba Da Bing!]). Here, the sprawl doesn't dig paths into Ben Chasny's No Six Organs of Admittance psych prettiness; instead, the band fixates on an endless dose of desperate, over-amplified histrionics, fronted by a distorted martyr with rocks in his mouth. Blustering through more 4-channel explosions than most can probably handle in a single sitting, Comets on Fire avoids slowing down the action or turning down the ear-fracturing skree for over an hour: gilt feedback connects, extends, and exudes, dangling from the ceiling as shiny, fractured stalactites.

Starting the proper album off a-squealin', "All I Need" is an acid-rock, noise version of tuning, until some seconds into the track, when the various threads of feedback stitch together and bang forward into a washed-out, garbled rock anthem. Ethan Miller's voice-- as outer-limits as his guitar-- treads the waves beyond all the distortion, only allowing brief glances at a few stranded words about grave robbers in love, cosmic ghosts, and miasmatic plagues. Really, though, actual verbal comprehension is secondary to the full-on atmosphere the band constructs: they focus on patterning, momentary pauses, dynamics, and you're left waiting for the roof to cave in under the barometric pressure. The great thing about the echoplex is the way it spreads over any potential blank spaces during the course of the album, like the splatter painting of Pollock spun askew through some centrifugal fuck-up. After the opener, the brief hand-clapped raga "Rimbaud Blues" is the only sustained breakdown until the album's end.

The live show begins following a two-minute pause at the end of "Days of Vapors", the final, gloriously decomposed track from the original self-titled LP. Like a lot of low-fidelity music recorded in boomy rooms, this concert material is high on the high-end and shrill. Miller's vocals, unfortunately, have too much presence here, losing the denser growl of the album, sometimes congealing enough to make sense. All in all, the live material lacks the fullness of the other recordings (the drums sound super tinny) and perhaps offers some glances at cracks in the astronauts' armor. As with Modest Mouse's Interstate 8 EP, also featuring a demo set appended, after a couple listens I forgot to wait for the fuzzier, less interesting material and just edited the bad parts out.

While Comets on Fire does lack those ponderous Opeth-textured moments of Field Recordings From the Sun, its unrelenting snarled beastliness is one hell of a sonic whoop-ass, outclassing-- by a solar system-- most of the over-the-top rock music I've heard thus far in 2003. Skip the live stuff, and you'll never come down."

"The band that signalled a psychedelic/space-rock revival. Released on vinyl only two years before, this was the debut CD outing from the band now signed to Sub Pop."
- Rock-A-Rolla

"Hoo-ray. Alternative Tentacles has taken it upon themselves to reissue the out of print debut 2001 LP from local AQ-faves Comets On Fire on a shiny new cd. Plus, tacked on to the end of the disc, you get six songs from a real raw 2000 live show as a bonus!

Compared to last year's "Field Recordings From The Sun" this is less varied -- there's no Six Organs freak-folk here -- and more focused on utter fuzz speed destruction. Maybe like Karp meets Monster Magnet on some bad acid and pills. Here's what we wrote about the vinyl version back then: "Psychedelic speed garage punk from Santa Cruz! Comets On Fire fuse the amphetamine energy of High Rise with hyper-distorted vocals and electronic tweakery. The SF/Bay Area has been sprouting lots of intense garage-punk acts lately, most of which (try to) rehash the sound of the MC5 and cop the style of the Stooges (it's hard not to), but what really sets these boys ahead of all the others is the use of noise and effects -- thanks to electronics tweak-maestro Noel Harmonson (of Santa Cruz no-wave rascals The Lowdown) on an Echoplex!" Guitarist Ethan Miller ain't too shabby in the distortion and effects dept. either. Send this back to the sixties and they'd be worshipped as deities, by scuzzy bikers anyway.

We went on to say that this is "the kinda thing collectors will salivate over in ten, twenty years" and doubtless they still will, but the good news is that in the here and now ordinary folks who like their rock loud and fucked up can acquire this on cd with no difficulties!"
- Aquarius Records



1. "All I Need" ()
2. "Graverobbers" ()
listen to "Graverobbers"   MP3 (4.3 MB)
3. "One Foot" ()
4. "Got A Feel In" ()
5. "Rimbaud Blues" ()
6. "Let's Take It All" ()
listen to "Let's Take It All"   MP3 (3.6 MB)
7. "The Way Down" ()
listen to "The Way Down"   MP3 (3.2 MB)
8. "Comets On Fire" ()
9. "Ghost Of The Cosmos" ()
10. "Days Of Vapors (6 live songs on this track)" ()

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