Fans of heavy-lidded rock will probably know that Baroness’ Yellow & Green double-album was their first to really divide opinion. With its softer, more mainstream approach to songwriting, many missed the bruising throb and howling vocals that so characterised their early years. Those souls may find solace in the arms of Colossus and their debut, Wake.
Hailing from Stockholm in Sweden, the three men of Colossus offer up a variety of songs that range from roared, psychedelic stoner to powerful NWOBHM melodies. Often ripped with the thunderous, stoned rock n’ roll of The Sword or tweaked to allow grungier elements in, Wake combines echoes of the past and blasts of the contemporary. Tracks like the dark, emotive aggro-beastie “Kingdoms” and the game-changing “Traitor’s Gate” burst with Orange Goblin-esque buzzsaw guitars and crushing Mastodonic reverb-loaded howls. These moody, swamp-slicked anthems are there so you can wail them to the heavens – “As cold winds chill the marrow in your bone / Just think of what you’ve done / You’ve gone and fucked them all”.
Entombed’s Lars G. Petrov adds his vocal prowess to “Pillars Of Perenity”. It’s an instantly loveable track with thunderous drumming and brutish intent; one which veers about sucking up the chameleonic heart of modern post-metal whilst keeping one foot firmly inside the Swedish death metal scene. Together with “Suncarrier”, which moves from apocalyptic bass bombast into a steady hammering home of its groove, these two monsters provide the beating heart of the piece.
On the downside and despite opening eerily with a recording of footsteps on gravel and a clichéd tyre squeal, “A Stir Of Slumber”, fails to build on the mood and, oddly for a first track, ends up being the weakest track on the whole album. It’s a cyclical rock number in minor keys that snags its dark cloak every time it returns to the verse. Niklas Eriksson’s vocal, for some ungodly reason, comes across as shaky and cringingly inspid. He fires out the lyrics here in a rapid rising then falling cadence which quickly becomes obnoxiously repetitive. At the other end of the scale, by the time we reach the splatter attack and slowly shifting mudslides of “Cloudhead” and “Fungal Gardens”, Colossus are sinking fast into gallons of overdrive and walls of fuzz. Only Eriksson’s, by now, storming vocal remains above the surface, soaring high.
The lyrical content is a bit intermittent in quality. It ranges from the mangled mistranslation “The sky gave finally way and the pieces yet remains” to Eriksson’s mercilessly repeated final fling of “Oh, great wind give me the wings to soar once again”. There are also plenty of rough edges to the mix (the flat, flabby snare and clipped cymbals are particularly grim), but the soul and purpose of the music are all present and correct.
So you may find it a bit of a patchy, back-to-front album with everything inside just continuing along an downhill road of heavy with its subtle nuances drowning in ever-increasing levels of filthy fuzz – kind of like the sonic equivalent of starting out with a pin hammer and ending up with a wrecking ball – but none of that actually seems to matter much when you hear this trio really lay down. Consequently, this is a debut album that will undoubtedly astonish (sublime) and infuriate (ridiculous) you. Put simply, if you make it past track one, you’ll find only the good and the great inside.
(8/10 John Skibeat)