|In Black & Gold|
Hey Colossus — In Black & Gold Location: London, UK
Album release: February 9th, 2015
Record Label: Rocket Recordings
1. Hold On 4:15
2. Sisters and Brothers 4:14
3. Hey, Dead Eyes, Up! 3:08
4. Wired/Brainless 5:51
5. Black and Gold 5:59
6. Lagos Atom 9:54
7. Eat It 4:01
8. Sinking, Feeling 4:06
BY GEOFF COWART, 16 FEBRUARY 2015, 09:30 GMT; SCORE: 9/10
♦→ Puzzled? After the first four minutes of In Black and Gold you might be. Was there a cock up at the record pressing plant? Isn’t this a Vangelis tune from the Blade Runner soundtrack? As it unfolds and the dreamy vocals kick in you’d be tempted to think it’s a long–lost Spiritualized song. But as the song’s title mischievously suggests: “Hold On”. It’s good advice, because aural relief is on the way in “Sisters and Brothers” — a tune that slowly throbs its way into existence with frontman and chief instigator Paul Sykes waiting in the darkened wings for the chance to pop out and snarl: “You can’t wake up! Turn on the lights again!”
♦→ As head fakes go, it’s an effective one. But for the high octane British sextet this curveball is hardly the exception on their eighth album it’s the new rule. Yet things quickly get back to firmer and freakier footing with “Hey, Dead Eyes, Up!” as the ugly guitar licks and Rhys Llewellyn’s percussive juggernaut is whipped into a devilish frenzy as the irascible Sykes implores: “Lie / Cheat / Steal / Do what you feel / Feel / Good / Do it again,” with a worryingly large grin on his face. It may only be three short minutes, but its colossal grind and ugly final freak out are the first clues that this is the same band which created the hookah–hitting triumph of an album Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo just one year ago.
♦→ However, the addition of synths and other newfound programmed oddities adds a sinister veneer to the proceedings of In Black and Gold, casting an uneasy haze over the music which pays off in dramatic fashion. “Wired_Brainless” follows — and it’s just plain creepy, with Sykes exhaling in menacing fashion as the scuzzy, angular guitar attacks build up with impressive accuracy behind him. Sykes’ singing veers into a nasally Ian Curtis–esque pitch of alien detachment as he references a ‘bomb’ that he can ‘taste’. The five–minute song also relishes in its expansive denouement by fizzling out in a blaze of chaotic six–string assaults with the most delicate of drumming and Joe Thompson basslines. Boom.
♦→ To appreciate the band’s newfound less–is–more approach look no further than the album’s centrepiece, “Black and Gold”. It’s the undoubted highlight of the album and sees the song almost fall apart in its troubled, psychotic Western chime. Once again, Sykes leads the creep–fest, singing obliquely: “I write in black and gold / At the centre of a story that can now be told / Tied to a golden ball and chain / Shoes full of water from the pouring rain,” signalling to the band’s three guitarists that it’s time to let loose. Yet no matter how super–sized the riffs get or how pummelling the tunes threaten to become, there is never a sense that the band has lost control. The dynamics, from hushed drones to uncomfortably oppressive power chords, are never overcooked and always in proportion to the larger picture — however monochromatic the results.
♦→ Yes, the primordial edge and sunken depravity of the band make the guitar–heavy album seem refreshingly familiar in its outlook. However, the strummed acoustic guitar and ambient swirls of the almost ten–minute motorik jam “Lagos Atom” show a band reaching the farthest outpost of its sound without managing to lose the plot. In contrast, it’s followed by the stomach–crunching “Eat It” which returns the listener to the band’s much–loved colossal riffdom. It’s also the song which almost caused the crowd at the band’s album release party at the Lexington last Saturday to spontaneously combust.
♦→ Finally, it winds down with that “Sinking, Feeling” — an apt state of macabre affairs for an album that thanks ‘the drug dealers of SE4’ in its liner notes. One must conclude they may have lent a helping hand in the recording process during the band’s stay at Camberwell’s Dropout Studios. Whatever the intake, they finally made a wholly cohesive album, full of startling artistic quality and conceptual brilliance.
♦→ In that sense, In Black and Gold stands as a rare album that is a mystifying as it is powerful, dark as it is joyous. And despite the odd misstep, it deserves to be lauded as the band’s finest hour as well as a genuinely bold adventure into the cosmos of heavy rock. :: http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/
♦→ Emerging in a haze of demented riff science and booze–addled abandon, Hey Colossus have carved out a notable niche for themselves in the British underground’s murkier quarters. They’ve dished out a formidable array of wax over the last decade, specialising in a primordial barrage of abject noise from overheated ampstacks. Yet for all the grit and gnarl of their output thus far, it’s seemingly only been a warm–up for their latest opus, which sees their monstrous assault finely honed into an album as beguiling as it is bulldozing. ‘In Black And Gold’, their eighth album proper and first for Rocket Recordings, ushers in a new incarnation of Hey Colossus.
♦→ Marrying malevolent attack to expansive celestial splendour, ‘In Black And Gold’ marks a point whereby Hey Colossus map out a sonic trajectory that expands on their trademark ornery overload. The songs herein may be leaner and more artful than the fearsome sound by which they made their name on albums like 2008’s ‘Project: Death’ and the monstrous 2013 opus ‘Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo’, but they remain possessed of the wrath both Stoogian and Stygian that fuels their noiserock transgression.
♦→ Yet meanwhile, and with 2015 looming large, an evolutionary process has led to their maximalist tendencies being replaced by a sharp focus on space and restraint, not to mention a refreshing stylistic diversity, resulting in a strange aural alchemy. ♦→ Here, they sound as comfortable tackling electronically–fried dub mantras like ‘Lagos Atom’ as they do the Cluster–esque lullaby of the opening ‘Hold On’. Yet there’s no shortage of primal rock action to be had on ‘In Black And Gold’; on ‘Sisters And Brothers’ they summon up a swaggering, demented groove that sashays like a zombified Gun Club, whilst on the dramatic spaghetti–psych of the title–track a revelatory cinematic sprawl of sound sees The Bad Seeds and The 13th Floor Elevators engaged in a psychic duel in the noonday sun.
♦→ The vital and Spinal Tap–approved ‘fine line between clever and stupid’ has been a location that this London–based tinnitus machine has made fine work of dwelling on for the duration of their life thus far. Yet with ‘In Black And Gold’, in a laudable leap of faith, they’ve stepped beyond, and the result is both vicious and visionary. These unpretentious underworld overlords have emerged from the shadows to create an avant–garage pièce de résistance, and moreover it turns out that the sunlight suits them better than they ever realised. Wordpress: https://heycolossusband.wordpress.com/
|In Black & Gold|