Something a bit different here, a split EP from Oxford’s self styled doom folk quartet Coma Wall and their obscenely heavy alter ego Undersmile. Although both bands differ greatly in delivery, they both use the spectacular vocals of Hel Sterne and Taz Corona – Brown, which, when combined with the talents of Olly Corona – Brown and Tom McKibbin, create something which covers polar opposites of the musical spectrum.
Coma Wall are up first and offer three songs and the first thing I noticed was the similarity in style to Alice In Chains from the acoustic “Jar Of Flies” EP. This is quickly forgotten however, as the band have their own approach which grows throughout their side of this release. Hauntingly melodic harmonies and slightly off kilter tunes lull you into a false sense of security about what is to come. The slow tempo creates a easy atmosphere for you to enjoy the laid back appeal of these ‘unplugged’ tracks.
Undersmile on the other hand, take what Coma Wall have and completely turn it on its head. The same four people, but with added amps and fuzz boxes and a brutal approach to their music. The vocal harmonies are still there, but take on a whole new meaning and become both unsettling and engaging. The riffs are slow and measured and each one smashes you further into submission as the tunes become compelling listening. Engineered by Justin Greaves (formerly of Iron Monkey among many others), this adds a new dimension to heavy music.
The running time as well as the feel of the songs is grand as well. Six songs here that last between six and eight minutes each, but the album seems to fly by as track by track, you get dragged further in to this intensely dark, atmospheric world that is created on this release. Each listen draws you deeper into it, and this is one release that I know will still be getting regular airings well into the future. A taster for two bands that I have been hunting down previous releases for ever since.