Band – Various Artists
Album – Coma Regalia – The One Who Became Many
Country of Origin – Various
Genre – Screamo
Release Date – October 9, 2023
Label – Zegema Beach Records
Author – Andy D
First of all, I should take a moment to heap some praise on Coma Regalia, the formative band of now legendary screamo label Middle Man Records. Continuing in the early style of bands like Orchid and pageninetynine, they brought the style’s melodic yet crushing sheets of sound into the 2010s. Accessing the existential, introspective darkness of their influences, lyricist Edie Quinn transfigures angst, grief, and loss into a characteristic rasp over a wall of noise both melodic and chaotic. Not only that, but as a founder of Middle Man records, Quinn has become a major player in DIY music in general for over a decade, platforming other exciting newer bands such as For Your Health, Ostraca, and To Forget.
As a result, it’s hard to think of a currently active band more deserving of such a brilliant and complex tribute than Coma Regalia. Zegema Beach Records has already produced a couple tribute compilations for other bands, two who are among the most influential on today’s heavier side of emotive hardcore. The first of these, in 2017, paid tribute to Jeromes Dream, and even featured a contribution from Coma Regalia. The second, a smaller-scale affair, was an homage to Japanese post-screamo pioneers Envy. It is wonderful to see a band founded as recently as Coma Regalia receiving a similar treatment.
Covering screamo songs is a strange proposition. So often, a song’s characteristics are so closely tied to the band playing it that it’s hard to imagine it being painted with a different sonic palette. What this compilation offers is a glimpse into the styles of many bands that have either worked alongside Coma Regalia or been influenced by them – often radically different from the original songs. There is a nice mix of interpretations. Some relatively straightforward but no less passionate reconstructions of the source material live alongside more unusual reimaginings that showcase the integrity of the songwriting behind the originals.
“Unrecognition” (originally “Un recognition”), for instance, is delivered faithfully by Hundreds of AU, beginning with a 3/4 riff played with a tightness and rhythmic sensitivity which ever so slightly pushes and pulls against the beat. This results in a lurching affect, a sonic representation of the emotional burden the lyrics carry. These small but impactful rhythmic inflections preserve a tastefulness and subtlety that is a hallmark of Coma Regalia’s playing, serving as a fitting and thoughtful tribute.
As an example of the other type of cover provided here, solo act Memorrhage’s rendition of “Meridias” is a lo-fi semi-acoustic ballad of a song from Coma Regalia’s first full length that originally jutted forth with intense rage, offering a mirror image of the original but still effectively painting the lyrics’ despair. Also notable to me was Roman Lions’ sleek, hi-fi take on “In Submission”, originally a churning, grimy d-beat rager.
As the track sequence continues, more experimental and extreme styles dominate, forming a sort of stylistic gradient between more straightforward melodic screamo on the front end of the album and nasty grindcore towards the end. This makes the compilation highly listenable as a continuous experience (I do not always find this is the case with various artist compilations). Through this, we get a take on Coma Regalia’s more extreme, powerviolence-oriented material through bands that specialize in this, even featuring more blackened and noise-inflected elements.
The compilation was released on October 9th and is available for pay-what-you-want on Bandcamp – I strongly recommend shooting a little money towards this wonderful effort as all digital sales and physical profits go toward Edie Quinn and Middle Man Records.
Biography: Andy D is a composer, bassist, and recovering academic. His own musical output draws from free improvisation, electroacoustic composition, metal, and jazz.