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If you’ve never been tricked into plunking down three digits for an obscurely legendary but ultimately disappointing late-’60s/early-’70s psychedelic record on eBay—say, Item No. 225999775: EGGSCALIBUR P GRASSHOG ULTRARARE DEBUT NM—then you might not fully appreciate Comets on Fire’s latest. The rest of us, however, understand: Blue Cathedral is the honest-to-Odin brain-addling masterpiece we’ve been hoping for years to find among all that overhyped, overpriced collector-scum detritus. Not that the Santa Cruz, Calif., quintet’s previous album suggested as much: 2002’s Field Recordings From the Sun gave subtlety a brief try with a mostly acoustic number, “The Unicorn,” but the rest of the disc was basically an emergency-room-worthy overdose of sheer speed and gratuitous guitar effects. Blue Cathedral doesn’t exactly dispense with that mind-altering mix, but it does display much more stylistic breadth—or at least as much as a record that includes the word “whiskey” in two of its eight song titles could be reasonably expected to have. From “Pussy Foot the Duke”’s Rick Wakeman–esque progginess to “Wild Whiskey”’s Britfolk-inspired quietude, from “The Antlers of the Midnight Sun”’s Hawkwind-style space rock to “Brotherhood of the Harvest”’s Pink Floydian pastoralism, the album begs, borrows, and steals anything and everything worth remembering from the prepunk Me Decade. But don’t think Comets on Fire are mere psychedelic pasticheurs or ironic re-creationists: Along with the gentler bits, Blue Cathedral features enough live-show energy to prove that these guys have the balls as well as the brains to make their geek-baiting approach work. The howling opener, “The Bee and the Cracking Egg,” and the Southern-rock-channeling “Whiskey River” both ache with gritted-teeth intensity. And one of the few times that guitarist Ethan Miller’s heavily treated vocals are even remotely intelligible is on the mournful finale, “Blue Tomb”: “It’s a lonely day,” he screeches, “To lay your soul down.” The sentiment may be familiar from countless heavy-blues laments, but the delivery—not to mention the megalodon-sized guitar riffs that accompany it—is as effective a death rattle as you’re likely to hear, past or present. If a record that sounded like this had been made by some Dutch commune dwellers in the early ’70s, believe me, you would have already been outbid at the last second by GandolfGary2069. —David Dunlap Jr.