There’s an implicit implication of stylistic change when a band makes the leap from a purveyor of all things heavy like Relapse to the more post-rock leaning climes of Temporary Residence. And so is the case with Louisville, Ky. trio Coliseum, but not by any drastic means. Where the band pounded out two-minute D-beat throwdowns and Mötörhead-style biker metal bruisers on 2007’s No Salvation, the band has since stretched out and expanded their approach with its follow-up, House With a Curse. However, with a band like Coliseum, a little more melody goes a long way, not to mention slightly slower tempos, and as such their brand of hardcore-influenced rock anthems have gained a little more in the way of meat without losing any of their edge.
Less a metal or hardcore album than a rock ‘n’ roll album with some supremely heavy elements, House With a Curse finds Coliseum opening up their songs more. The J. Robbins-produced album even sounds closer in aesthetic to post-hardcore bands like Fugazi or a more hook-laden Jesus Lizard, which is very rarely, if ever, a bad thing. The strings that fill the minute-long “Introduction” are a tease, certainly, but the ominous mood they convey is sustained by the band’s moodier productions.
The headrush-inducing shoegazer hardcore of “Blind In One Eye” is sublime in its mixture of ambience, heaviness and hooks. Like a grittier, more muscular Chameleons or Swervedriver, the song pulses and throbs beneath delay-treated riffs, soaring majestically with sinewy, spiked wings. “Everything to Everyone” is a bit more straightforward, all chugging power chord riffs and raw, rowdy vocals. The group slows the tempo a bit on “Cloaked In Red” to nice effect, providing a break from their pummelers, while “Perimeter Man” is a dizzying launch into a post-punk stratosphere.
Coliseum has evolved considerably on House With A Curse, all the while retaining the muscle and grit that made them so badass in the first place. Surprises abound throughout the album, from the beefed-up U2 sound of “Skeleton Smile” to the stunning harmonies of “Man Was Never Meant to Fly.” What Coliseum may have sacrificed in the way of sheer visceral attack, they’ve more than made up for with such a fantastic group of songs.
Video: “Blind In One Eye”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.