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Hey Colossus – In Black And Gold

Rocket Recordings

Hey Colossus - In Black and GoldOn In Black And Gold, various intersections between the hypnotic grooves of space rock, kosmische music and freewheeling ’70s hard rock — a template already successfully mapped out by the likes of Circle in their several incarnations over the years — are held up to be examined with curiosity by Hey Colossus and weighed carefully in the balance. The band set about their task with suitably hefty percussion and some occasional guitar fireworks, the title track in particular providing an excellent way to kick the jams out hard and with a monomaniacal purpose.

At just over forty minutes long, it’s handily vinyl-sized and content to make its voice heard without the need for sprawling into CD-length vistas of splurge. It’s not that more wouldn’t be welcome, but that here Hey Colossus have kept themselves tightly-wound and express their intent in the time it feels right to take, rather than indulging in the overrunning they could so easily have seeped into, for better or worse.

Throughout, there’s a feeling of moody distance at work on the album, as if they have managed to escape the confines of earthly bounds — not by dint of being lightweight, no; but by giving the impression that Hey Colossus is a band who truly don’t consider themselves constrained by anything so mundane as gravity when they play. Needless to say, it’s best enjoyed at volume and with everything EQ’d to a metaphorical 11 (it might cause structural damage while doing so, of course).

It’s not that In Black And Gold is merely a heavy (in the sense of metal) album — the persistent feeling of retaining both mass and weightlessness at once avoids that. No, it’s more that the LP is of the world but not tied to it, elementally fiery and flowing rather than simply being restricted to the earthly grind and thrashing. That being said, there’s also no shortage of low end rumble, feedback or opportunities to headbang, should the mood happen to well up, as it most probably will during some of the more rhythmically propulsive passages.

Some of their earlier albums, the mighty Happy Birthday in particular, were relentless in their intensity and often crushed the listener under a glorious weight of finely-crafted cosmic sludge-become-doom to tremendous effect. In Black And Gold takes those elements into broader pastures, opening up on occasion into breathtaking widescreen vistas of blistering guitars, muscular drumming and megaphone vocals. This sea change is bracketed on the album by the slinky, smouldering churn of “Sisters and Brothers” and the lighter-waving rockout “Eat It”, which heaves and lurches with the same visceral mania let rip by the Butthole Surfers in their heyday.

So while keeping on board all the post-post-post-Sabbath grunginess and rock theatrics they can handle, Hey Colossus have managed to largely sidestep both the leaden blues template to which traditional metal has so often found itself wedded and the often overdone tendency towards frenetic displays of plank-spanking muso virtuosity encountered among much space rock. Instead, the band have pulled their music up by its lateral bootstraps, rising above the more obvious guitar-bass-drums format as they do so, and on In Black And Gold manage to fly both free and heavy at the same time.

 -Linus Tossio-

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