Welcome once again to Autopsy on the Forgotten, the column where we dig up the corpses of old and forgotten bands and review their only, small mark in metal’s history. So sit down, crank up the volume and get ready for some home-made 80s thrash metal recorded on cassette!
Today I’ll be reviewing Comatose‘s 1988 demo Death Is Only the Beginning. While most people (and by most I mean over 99.99% of the world’s population) have never heard of this band from Richland, Washington, some of you might have heard of Frost like Ashes – the Christian black metal band from Missouri, where Comatose‘s vocalist, Mike Larson, plays the guitar nowadays. From the looks of it, Larson was the only member of the band in question that kept playing music after this band’s demise, as I couldn’t find any info regarding the rest of the members. In fact, I couldn’t find any info about this band apart from Metal-Archives and their demo on YouTube.
The band probably formed during the mid-to-late 80s when thrash metal was at its peak and during an era which saw hundreds of groups be born just to disappear without a trace after a couple of years. Comatose was indeed one of these bands. I have no idea when they split-up, it could have been weeks after releasing this demo, or maybe years after, but they are so obscure that there’s just no way of knowing. The sole thing that proves this band once existed is this demo and nothing else, at all.
The first thing I got to say about Death is Only the Beginning is the cover art; it sure looks like something that you’d see on any Megadeth album cover. I kind of like it even though it’s somewhat generic, just a little thingy to point out. Now, the music? The music goes straight to the point; it’s fast, it’s groovy at times, it’s heavy, it kicks ass, and it chews gum! It’s not that different from any other thrash metal band (especially from that era), but it doesn’t suck as much as many groups from that time did. This is the kind of music I’d happily mosh to (even though I can’t last 10 seconds in a pit). The riffs, even though basic, are enjoyable to listen to, the guitar and the drums make sure to carry that violence characteristic of thrash metal and which gets you running and jumping like a madman.
It’s hard not to feel energetic when listening to this demo, and that’s one of the things that Death Is Only the Beginning gets right and that some other bands, including the big acts, somewhat fail to do – keeping the consistency between the tracks in a release. I disliked Metallica‘s Master of Puppets because it would constantly jump from a fast song to a mid-tempo one, and that would totally ruin the entire thing for me, which is not the case at all with this release. All the five tracks in this recording carry the same torch. They’re all fast, and they have a groovy half-tempo part here and there, which greatly adds to the songs and reminds me a whole lot of crossover thrash acts such as Municipal Waste. It works as a great way to cut the monotony of having an entire song being a mess of riffs and chords played at 180bpm without losing the thrash touch and boring the listener.
There are dual vocals in various songs; the lead vocalist does some high-pitched screams, which I can compare more closely (given my knowledge) with F.K.Ü.‘s Larry Lethal, or also Kreator‘s Pretrozza (although higher-pitched). And as I’ve mentioned, at times, there is a second vocalist, who has a deeper voice, almost guttural but not quite there. I can’t make out much of the lyrics, but I can tell they talk about gore or death (apparently) and politics. The bass is kind of nice and can be heard here and there, which is a huge plus because I absolutely love good bass lines. Death is Only the Beginning doesn’t fail to deliver, such as in the middle of “Dead on Delivery,” where the bass plays a nice riff, which is clearly audible. It doesn’t mean that much for the album overall, but it’s one of those small parts of it that just leave a good taste in your mouth. The drums are on point, they’re quite nice, there’s a good use of the crash cymbals, and some of the beats the drummer plays at time are quite cool. There are some parts where either the guitarist or the drummer will get a bit off the mark. It is to be expected from an amateur recording from that era, but it’s not a big deal. Overall, the composition of these songs is quite good, though generic and somewhat basic at times, but still very much enjoyable.
The sound quality isn’t as bad as you could expect. I, of course, don’t have the original cassette, and I doubt many people still have it. Yet, from what can be heard in the video uploaded to YouTube (embedded above), it sounds pretty damn decent, except for some parts where the audio sorts of wanders off and goes to sounding a bit weird, but it’s nothing too important in my opinion. For a demo recorded in what I’d guess is not a professional studio, this kicks some serious ass, and definitely doesn’t hurt to listen to.
Overall, Death Is Only the Beginning has some tiny flaws here and there. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not the most original music to ever be written, not even close to that, but it still provides 20 minutes of non-stop hard-punching thrash which you can headbang to. I wouldn’t say it’s one of those amazing gems that everyone should listen to because of how good it is, because it’s not. Still, it is something that a thrash metal enthusiast would surely like to hear and also something that anyone who lived back in those times would probably enjoy, as this is one of those old recordings which can surely bring a sense of nostalgia.
Although long since gone and forgotten to time, Comatose left this world holding a grenade packing an explosion of angry, fast metal, which didn’t quite explode the way they would have wanted to. But such a small explosion is still enough to blow your head off with some kick-ass music.
Released on: 1988
This cassette can’t be found anywhere for sale that I could find. Maybe some lucky people out there still have it. So if anyone wants it, good luck hunting it down.