Personnel: Chad Ross (vocals, guitar); Andrew Moszynski (guitar); Christopher Sandes (keyboards); Jay Anderson (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Steve Chahley.
Recording information: Candle Recording; Union Sound.
Photographer: Samantha Muljat.
Comet Control's 2014 self-titled debut was near perfect. It blended metal, shoegaze, dream pop, and psychedelia in melodic and impressively heavy fashion, better than almost anyone who's given that particular equation a try. Nearly as good as Swervedriver's best work, and that's saying plenty. So, the bar was set very high for the band's second album, Center of the Maze, and they jump over that bar like it was nothing. The record is just as heavy as their first, just as gazey and dreamy, just as packed with overloaded guitars and soaring choruses. If anything, it may be better. The songs are just a little hookier, there's more variety in the production techniques, and the overall sound is richer. It sounds like they took a bit more time with the arrangements, thinking them through and doing some little things that turn out to make the album better -- blending the keyboards in a little more fully, trying out new guitar pedals, boosting and spreading out the vocals, adding more dynamic range so the heavy songs have a surprising lightness about them (and vice versa for the lighter songs) -- pro tricks that are often set aside during the headlong rush of excitement bands often have when undertaking their first album. Second albums, if done right, are for expanding and exploring. They're for taking what worked already and making it better or giving it a twist that makes it sound more interesting. Comet Control do all of that. They also wrote a great batch of songs that go from lilting psych-pop ("Silver Spade") to sweeping guitar epics ("The Hive") to swaggering gunfighter rock à la Thin Lizzy ("Criminal Mystic") in one breathtaking mid-album run. The rest of the album is just as impressive, with no weak songs and a few that suggest what Smashing Pumpkins could have sounded like if they weren't brats ("Darkness Moves") or were into spooky psych ("Golden Rule"). At the end of the album they drop two massive space rock ballads ("Sick in Space" and "Artificial Light") that crawl along majestically over almost 20 minutes of swooping synths, slow-motion drum fills, huge guitar solos, and Chad Ross' plaintive croon. It's a daring way to end an album, but like everything else they try on Center of the Maze, it works out like a dream. ~ Tim Sendra