The Oxford Coma

Morphine EP

Written by: BW on 01/10/2014 01:00:57

I don’t normally do EP's, but this one seriously caught my attention. The track off The Oxford Coma’s debut album that really did this was “Tradition” and anyone that reads my reviews will know I don’t normally get stuck straight into a particular track until I’ve waxed lyrical about who they are and a full on back history and some other boring waffle. The thing is though, this band is anything BUT boring.

This EP seems to have a little something special about it. Almost like it has that special thing that you can’t put your finger on and I can safely say it takes a lot for me to sit up and take notice of something, but it isn’t normally this quick. With “Morphine” they’ve really put out a state of intent and I for one am curious to see what an album like this could well bring with a bit of time a maturity added to what is already a polished and interesting sound.

Going back to “Tradition” now, and as soon as you hear that almost Tool or Machine Head styled guitar and bass intro you get caught up in it. The vocal interest also helps to manipulate your senses into enjoying this more and more as you listen. It almost gets grunge-like in it’s emotion, with a small amount of pain and anger mixed with melodic intent. There is a rawness about it that is refreshing. Not so much a rawness that makes you want to throw it in the nearest recycling bin, but one of passion being unleashed at a time that seems right.

With “My Riad” you have a Deftones style singing approach, with a lot of the screaming bordering on the line between control and complete chaos. The chorus is particularly well done and leads into some nice riff work. The EP begins in a way that you feel that there is a mixture of youthful exuberance and madness all wrapped into a few minutes of audio. I don’t normally go for the “SHOUTY SHOUTY” styled of singing, but I’ve always said that if there is a hint of understanding just what the hell is said then I’m actually all for it. The best thing is that in all of this captivating screaming the music itself is pretty tight and allows for you to appreciate all corners of the band from the off.

As I say, the one thing that really stands out above all else is the rawness of The Oxford Coma and this is shown in full force on “Black Balloons”. I’ve heard some haunting things in my time, but this is just so sublime it borders on the ridiculous. It almost rings Nirvana in my eyes, with an almost Kurbain styled singing and some properly moody instruments behind it all. For a guy who grew up in the 90’s loving everything like this it almost takes me back decades. The fact that it almost makes me cry with joy is something that speaks volumes and will no doubt be better than any review I could ever do.

When a song can draw as much emotion from you as they put into their song then you just know that a band has struck a chord with you. I feel that this band could be at the start of the journey that makes them. The REAL beauty of this EP is that is has a little something for everyone, which means they will either be able to cover all bases or want to find their direction and just absolutely gun it. I know what way I want them to go, but obviously it is up to them.

Listening to this EP as a whole makes it difficult to actually categorise them. There are hints of so many different bands in there that you cannot really classify them in a particular genre (which is also making me panic when linking them to similar bands at the end of all of this) If I were to pick the most accurate I could I would say that they’re leaning towards Godsmack with a mix of Nirvana and the Stone Roses. As I say it is a difficult thing to put in a place.

Covering the rest of the songs on this, “Grindstone” seems to be torn between the Dr Jekyll verse work, which is rather subdued and controlled and the more angry Mr Hyde in angry chorus stylings and an interesting instrumental section in the second half. This is maybe one area where I would say, like an amateur translator, they need to slightly brush up on, only because I feel it disjoints the actual track a little because it does try to go EVERYWHERE.

The title track is amazingly the only real track that sort of lets things down a little. The emotional singing goes a little over the top and sometimes sounds out of whack from the rest and as much as the actual music goes a way to helping things get back into the groove, the singing just doesn’t help it get it all back to normal, which is a shame considering how decent the rest of this actually is.

Looking at it all then we have a band who seem to be on their feet and now want to head somewhere. Quite where we don’t know yet, but for the most part (“Black Balloons” in particular) I like what i hear, quite a bit actually. It seems to have purpose and drive and doesn’t want to be held back by a guy waving a contract and that is a good thing indeed. Some tweaks and maturity need to weave their way in as improvements go, but I have heard worse from music veterans of decades old and this EP really isn’t bad at all.

If these guys aren’t something to watch out for on sheer passion alone, I don’t know what is.


Download: Black Balloons, Temptation, My Riad
For The Fans Of: Tool, Deftones, Godsmack, Machine Head

Release date 02.12.2014
Self Released

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