Coliseum head further toward rock and roll greatness on killer new ‘Sister Faith’

If there was a physical Meat Mead Metal office, our “bands changing with time” file would be incredibly bloated and probably in need of a new folder. Or something. Wasn’t it just Friday that we were talking about this very subject and the cavalcade of reasons why this happens? OK, then no point rehashing all of that, right?

Let’s just dive right into Louisville-based Coliseum, a band that’s been awfully busy the past decade putting out four albums, recording for three different labels, and continually updating and morphing their sound to what it is today on “Sister Faith,” their follow-up to 2010’s excellent “House With a Curse.” Even that record was a pretty far cry from their Relapse effort “No Salvation” and their self-titled 2004 debut, where the band was much more into hardcore and fury, though it didn’t indicate a band that was losing its passion or rage. Not even a little bit. “Sister Faith” takes what they started on “Curse” and goes even further down the rock and roll path, streamlining their sound even more, but not for any dishonorable reason. This just sounds like a natural progression, very similar to what Baroness have been up to of late. Not so shockingly, those bands are touring together this spring.

coliseum coverYou still can hear plenty of punk rock influence in Coliseum’s sound, and they still do a nice job putting together tasty riffs that stick in your head long after the music has stopped. There also happen to be really good hooks on these songs, and the entire package is ridiculously catchy, making these songs perfect fodder for rock radio, if the playlist hadn’t been predetermined months ago. This could be a real breakout effort for the band, one that could get major label reps’ ears perked up (if they aren’t already) but definitely does not abandon Coliseum’s audience. You’re all just going to have to find more room on the bandwagon is all.

Guitarist Ryan Patterson remains your gruff, emotional voice behind the band’s music, and he even shows some different approaches to his work on this record, while drummer Carter Wilson and new bassist Kayham Vaziri round out the lineup. In addition, Coliseum are joined by special gusts Wata from Boris, Chris Colohan (Burning Love, Cursed), Elizabeth Elmore (Sarge, The Reputation) and a bunch more, making this a collaborative display where like-minded artists get to color in some corners in ways maybe the main trio would not think of doing. Having so many extra hands often muddles the experience, but not here. The guests pop in and make their own contribution to the greater whole, while Coliseum remain the steady voices of what is, arguably, their best record.

“Disappear From Sight” is your opening salvo, as the guys blast out with an uptempo, slight gazey anthem complete with barked vocals and to-the-point intent. Short, sweet, and on our way into the heart of this record. “Last/Lost” is an early killer, with Patterson sounding at his miserable best, especially when he howls, “All I see … failure!” Though those negative outlooks also sound kind of uplifting and motivating. “Doing Time” flat out kicks ass, with a punk-fueled rage and Patterson snarling, “Ain’t a prison, but we’re doing time.” Great song that sticks to your ribs. “Love Under Will” is a change of pace, with the vocals lower and breathier, and the music hitting a post-punk groove, while dark, bristling “Under the Blood of the Moon” is in the same vein. Sticking with the plasma theme, “Used Blood” is brooding and punishing, with a thick bassline and dark riffs.

“Late Night Trains” is a weird give and take as the music is noisy, but not overwhelming, yet the vocals are pulled back a bit. The chorus is a killer, though, and it’s the highlight of the track. “Everything in Glass” is rough and loud, one of the heavier songs on the collection, but it also has some of the hookiest moments where the band seems to be heading toward pop-sludge. It’s pretty neat. “Black Magic Punks” is a blast, almost as if the band channeled modern-day Darkthrone conceptually, and it’s a great rock and roll song. “Save Everything” and “Bad Will” both are cool little punk rock nuggets situated toward the back end of the album, and both are formidable. The title cut is grungy and has some soulful slide guitar, making me wonder why it isn’t closer to the front of the record. But, why not even things out, I guess. Closer “Fuzzbang” will obliterate you with buzzy, fun guitar work similar to Torche, catchy riffs, and sing-along verses and choruses that end this record on a major high.

Anyone who dismisses Coliseum because they aren’t churning out molten metal anymore is missing the point. These guys are a hell of a band, and they’re really coming into their own as songwriters. These 13 songs are as strong and consistent a collection as this band has released to date, and it’s one of those albums that gets stuck under your skin and stays there. Major hails to Coliseum, a band that keeps getting better as they go forward.

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