Album Review :
Colossus - Badlands

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Band: Colossus
Album: Badlands
Label: Facedown Records
Release: 9.16.14
Reviewer: Brody B
Tracklisting:

  1. Badlands
  2. Demons
  3. Slow Burn
  4. Outcast
  5. Worthless
  6. Shades of Gray
  7. Downcast Eyes
  8. Insomnia
  9. Recoil
  10. Nicotine

Just last year Sioux Falls natives, Colossus, released their critically acclaimed debut album entitled “Time & Eternal”. The debut album on Facedown Records was an intense romp through the realm of hardcore music. The guys in Colossus threw everything but the kitchen sink at the listener with monstrous breakdowns, techy riffs, and plenty of thoughtfully penned lyrics.

Colossus’ sophomore effort, “Badlands” uses a very similar formula as “Time & Eternal” while still showing a natural progression and maturity. This is still the young and energetic band we all fell in love with on “Time & Eternal”, just more refined in every way imaginable.

After a short instrumental, which hearkens the South Dakota Indians of old, the band kicks into the energetic single; Demons. This opener has an absolutely searing riff right off the bat, which gets the listener engaged instantly just in time to get blindsided by a towering breakdown. One thing that was instantly apparent upon first listen to Demons was the production values had increased since the band’s freshman release. The band was able to achieve more depth and texture with their sound. Guitar leads abound and contrast well with the gravely bass. The drumming sounds more organic and technical against the brightness of cymbal strikes. All this makes for a more forceful sound which carries throughout the whole album.

Slow Burn has an old school hardcore vibe to it. The riffs are bouncy and fun while still keeping things sounding meaner than ever. The song takes many twists and turns in it’s 3 minute duration, yet it never looses it’s edge. Don’t expect any clean vocals or musical interludes, but look for subtle guitar leads and changes in tempo.

The first song to grab my attention on “Badlands” was Outcast. This track features Daniel McWhorter of Gideon, and finds Colossus trying their hand at a few of Gideon’s moves. The riffs, like much of Gideon’s material, are Nu Metal influenced with flangers added for effect. Vocalist, Alex Gutzmer really shines as he proclaims, “Dragging these chains until they break, no one’s free unless we change / We drag the same chains we feel the same pain / Made an outcast because of my faith, I’m sick of living in a world of hate / We drag the same chains we feel the same pain”.

Worthless is my personal favorite track on “Badlands”. Probably the most melodic offering Colossus has, the song carries a strong sense of melody throughout. The chorus section really stands out as subtle gang vocals add to the melodic guitar leads in the background. The song features one of my favorite breakdowns on the record as well as Gutzmer proclaims, “Understand this / You’re not worthless”. The song concludes with an excellent and unexpected guitar solo that ends all too soon.

Shades of Gray rounds out this perfect middle album trifecta by bringing the heaviness Colossus is known for. Contrasting nicely with it’s melodic predecessor Shades of Gray seems extra brutal in comparison. Blast beats and chunky, groove laden riffs add a powerful touch to the mix. Shades of Gray bleeds nicely into Downcast Eyes, a track that keeps things heavy while meandering at a bit of a slower pace. The track features one of my favorite breakdowns, not for its brutality, but rather for the eerie undertones amidst the chunkiness. As Gutzmer shouts, “You say I’m going to hell / I guess I’ll see you there”, guitarist Jim Hughes layers horror movie-esque melody underneath the powerful bass.

Nicotine is a very fitting closer to the album. The finale returns to a melodic sound with power chords and noodling leads as Gutzmer gets as close to singing as you’ll find. The track comes across very emotional and passionate due to the subject matter of losing a loved one. The album comes to a close as Gutzmer passionately howls, “Thinking of all my past regrets / Sometimes I burn a cigarette / I close my eyes / And pretend you’re still here / Where do I go from here? / When you disappear / You’re gone…”.

Overall: Colossus have improved in nearly every aspect since their Freshman release, “Time & Eternal”. Better production and slight experimentation give them a bit of a new spin on their sound and breathe a youthful breath of fresh air into their genre. It would seem Colossus has an incredibly bright and prosperous future. Look for more exciting things to come from these guys.

RIYL: Mouth of the South | Gideon | Forevermore

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