Coliseum companion piece ‘Parasites’ is a full-blown rock, hardcore infection

Any time I see the term “companion piece” when receiving a new collection of music, I grow wary. Often I find that term means “stuff that wasn’t all that great first time around, but maybe you’ll go ahead and buy it anyway until we come up with a new album.” I immediately become the skeptical consumer.

Louisville’s Coliseum have one of those efforts called “Parasites” getting ready to hit the streets, and before I even encountered the music, I had mixed emotions. I loved last year’s “House With a Curse” after being hot and cold with their previous material – I liked their other work just fine, but their first two albums didn’t really make Coliseum one of my favorite bands – and I was wondering just how much they had left in the same creative tank that led the way to their third record. Turns out, they must have been overflowing before committing “House” to record, because the eight tracks on this EP are just as good and even manage to be heavier and nastier in spots.

Actually, “Parasites” isn’t just stuff left over from their sessions at The Funeral Home with J Robbins that resulted in “House With a Curse.” There are some of those included here, but there also are newer pieces they cut with Robbins at Inner Ear Studios in Washington, D.C., a legendary recording space used by bands such as Bad Brains, Fugazi, Lungfish, and Rites of Spring. Perhaps being in such a hallowed space is what led to some of these songs being more bruising and hardcore-laden than what was on “House,” an album that saw the band head more on a traditional, albeit earth-quaking, path.

Just as they discovered on their last album, Coliseum are gifted with the ability to create meaty hooks and catchy melodies that make you want to scream along and punch a wall at the same time. These songs can be rowdy, yet introspective, boisterous, yet vulnerable. The trio kicks off the eight-track collection with “One Last Night,” a song that reminds me of Fucked Up’s more recent anthems, and guitarist/vocalist Ryan Patterson tries to reach out to the disillusioned in his audience by observing, “We spread to where we don’t belong.” That leads us into “Waiting (Too Late),” that has a stoner rock groove, some talky vocals, and Patterson telling his nameless muse, “I’m sick, sick, sick of losing you.” He’s both angry and desperate while delivering his plea. “The Fiery Eye” reminds me a bit of “Blind in One Eye” from “House,” as the song takes on an atmospheric, punchy rock personality. The guitar work is really cool and airy, and it’s like The Edge was ripped from the early ’80s to Coliseum’s creative sessions to add his input. ’80s The Edge is going to be surprised and perhaps appalled to see where his band has gone.

“Ghost of God” lets the band delve into some mechanical weirdness, but its headiness is a red herring for what follows. From there, the band throws all the hammers and wrenches out the window with some furious, temperature-raising songs that remind me a bit of their hardcore past. “The Big Baby” is abrasive and screamy, and it’ll be the song that leads to fist flurries live; “Gone With the Pope” is absolutely simmering, with some grungy, punk-flavored guitar work; and “Blood of the Beast” is gruff and violent, lasting very little time but still doing much damage. “Give Up and Drive” ends the record on a melodic, hopeful note, reminding the listener once again just how well-rounded this band – rounded out by bassist Mike Pascal and drummer Carter Wilson – really are. It’s moving and inspiring, capped off by Patterson declaring, “This road drives me down to my destiny.” He sounds like a man of purpose delivering that line, and his bandmates are just as determined hammering their way through.

So yeah, don’t shy away from this “companion piece.” I understand why it’s considered that, but “Parasites” is a separate animal and can stand on its own. It’s more proof Coliseum are hitting their stride creatively and are one of those bands you need to follow into the future, because things are just starting to get good.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy “Parasites” or to learn more about the label, go here:

To read my review of “House With a Curse,” go here: