This six-song EP, titled Morphine, is the brainchild of Phoenix heavy psychedelic rock/metal group The Oxford Coma. Recorded live, Morphine is indeed psychedelic in its intensity and the auditory distortions that feature it. The three members of the band, Billy Tegethoff (guitar and lead vocals), James Williams (bass and vocals), and Anthony Chamberlain (drums), take us on quite the ride from the very first beat of their short intro, “InfraStatic (Thanks Uncle Sam)” to the last one of their outro, “Black Balloons”.
The songs are said to be about grief, loss, death, and other such deeply personal experiences. While they are quite raw – yet quite polished despite being recorded live – each features some element that makes it a little different from the others. Just like when on a launch pad, “InfraStatic” builds up a sense of ominousness with a monologue about death coming through layers of static and what sounds like heavily distorted ambient sounds. “My Riad” – perhaps a play on the word “myriad” with its many layers – is what a headbanger typically is, while “Tradition” spells out heavy metal. The opening of “Grindstone”, the longest track on the EP, features a melody picked on an electric guitar that might make you reach for the volume dial. The penultimate title track “Morphine” features an interesting change of pace as the band members sing about one of their grandmothers’ death after a 10-year slide into dementia. The closing “Black Balloons” is a slow ballad that completely changes the direction of the EP, winding things down into the now quiet night and reminds at times of slower Nirvana songs.
In an intriguing marketing stunt, the EP is not only being released digitally on December 2 but also as a limited run 150 gram blood red vinyl edition. The Oxford Coma, who present themselves as not being just a metal band, come off as a band that puts together songs that go beyond the coma inflicted by such traditional infrastructures as universities like Oxford. They are worth a listen by fans of the genre and beyond. More information about the band is available on their website, and their EP can be streamed on SoundCloud.
Pictures provided by Independent Music Promotions.