Comity have been concocting their complex mixture of chaotic metalcore (the Botch, Converge, and Coalesce sort), sludge, noise, and all things experimental and dissonant since 1996. Of course, a band so complex and difficult to comprehend can only come from one place: France. With four full-lengths already under their belt, Comity’s fifth — A Long, Eternal Fall — seeks to continue the unsettling chaos of their preceding albums. Comity are not an accommodating band. We’re thrown into their mad world without pleasantries or even the offer of a cup of tea. Instead, incessant discomfort is the name of their game and participation in said game results in bleeding ears and a rapidly beating heart.
A Long, Eternal Fall opens with the instrumental “I,” a dramatic track that twists and turns, combining deluges of dissonant riff shapes that repel and bounce off one another. Comity disregard humanity’s inherent desire to uncover logical and consistent patterns. Instead, mind-boggling progressions and structures create an uneasy and difficult to pinpoint sound that pervades the album from start to end. The guitars, the core feature in “I,” bend, warp, and screech like air raid sirens. It is a purposely chaotic opener, intensified by the constant barrage of noise emerging from the drums, rising to the bursting point. Although abrupt and rough at times, there is a strangely compelling feeling that pervades this song and the rest of the album. The drumming intensifies this ten-fold. It’s constantly vibrant, aggressive and multi-layered, with drum rolls, fills, and blast beats galore, but it’s measured enough as not to distract from the songs.
Three-tiered vocals scratch through the maelstrom throughout, adding an extra layer of obfuscation. Second track “II” possess a Remission-era Mastodon vibe, consisting of hardcore influenced complexity melded with concrete melodic grooves that appear, then disappear, with rapidity. Animalistic growls, snarls, shouts, bellows, and generally distressed noises weave and layer to add further denseness. In “III” the layered vocals join in disharmony as the song rumbles at a lower range and deeper riffs and drumming patterns begin to suffocate the mix, much to the song’s detriment. The opening tracks merge to form a difficult-to-differentiate, incoherent whole that succeeds in its mission to confuse and complicate.
As the album progresses more variety occurs. A trickle of atmospheric tenderness emerges during “IV.” It’s a sullen and measured song; it still carries the trademark schizophrenic vitriol but hides it under its trench coat. Sweet math-rock licks and dissonant arpeggios merge to form a repulsive hybrid of post-hardcore and post-black metal. Occasionally, these arpeggios carry more of a melodic feel. The opening of “VI” carries strong traces of early-Mastodon as spiraling, melodic riffs carry a southern twang. Comity inherit the essence of the prehistoric swamp with panache. The guitars in “VI” are similarly as jingly-jangly, sounding somewhat like Johnny Marr if he was stuffed with speed and had an extra hand. Conversely, slower moments of measured sludge also appear. In “IV,” following the intensity of the preceding sections, a breakdown grinds the song to a halt. It sounds like Brian Eno‘s ambient music in comparison. “V,” too, opens with dirty sludge grooves mixed with Botch and early Isis that gets the head nodding, if inconsistently.
A Long, Eternal Fall does not have enough variation for my liking. The constant fluctuation in Comity’s sound is exhausting to follow. Though the second half of the album, particularly the vast and steadily built intensity of the eleven-minute “VII,” contains a lot more hooks, grooves, and melodies to anchor the chaos at the forefront, the first half suffers from directionless and meandering instability. Lengthier songs, perhaps, would suit their sound better. But I get the feeling that Comity want to cause discomfort. Irregularity is how they achieve this. I’ve been battling with this album for a while. Some days I love it, others I hate it. One thing is for certain though: I definitely feel something for it, and I will re-visit the album in the near future with fresher ears.