Release Date: Apr 30, 2013
Record label: Temporary Residence
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Hardcore, Noise-Rock
Review Summary: Black magic punk in full swing!It's peculiar that one of the best rock songs of the year thus far deals with witchcraft-obsessed punk rockers. “Black Magic Punks” boasts an unstoppable leading riff which, along with no-frills attitude, makes for a refreshingly unpretentious anthem that's full of restless energy. The track also signals that Louisville trio Coliseum have found their own niche.
It’s been particularly interesting to watch Coliseum’s development over the past decade. Formed by vocalist and guitarist Ryan Patterson—who remains the only original member of this Kentucky three-piece—Coliseum has gone from being a volatile hardcore punk band to an essential alternative rock group. 2010’s House with a Curse was brilliant change of pace: a record where Coliseum wrote longer but no less passionate songs and placed more emphasis on melody than ever before.
As a band, Coliseum are a hard one to pin down. Their mix of punk energy, metal riffage, and post-hardcore emotion combines to make them a wonderful chimera of underground influences, and their fourth album, Sister Faith, only furthers this reputation. One of the first things that can be felt is the presence of J. Robbins (of Jawbox fame), who recorded the band at his Magpie Cage studio.
Earlier this month, Louisville trio Coliseum revealed that they'd figured out the formula to create one near-perfect rock song. They called their new personal best "Fuzzbang", the title alone obviously a dare to mindlessly hit the play button. Far lesser songs have had titles like "Fuzzbang"-- tracks that are all power and no substance. This song actually says something substantial, addressing ignorance in certain sects of Christianity and the neverending, painful churn of everyday life.
For Coliseum, less has always been more. It's hard to name another modern band that manufacture aggression and heaviness so easily, and with so few bells and whistles; where some of their contemporaries perpetually pound the listener with layers of buzzing guitars and a thunderous rhythm section, Coliseum build their songs around melodies first and riffs second without shortchanging either. On Sister Faith, that's truer than ever; it's the most classic-sounding, straightforward record of their career, but again, they sacrifice nothing to get there.
When they released their eponymous debut nine years ago, Coliseum showed that a marriage between sludge metal and punk was not just possible, but pleasurable. The Louisville trio found its foothold by using the meaty riffs and growls of frontman Ryan Patterson as a tool for vulcanizing punk’s din into a sturdy, muddy machine. While the band’s framework has undergone a few tweaks over its decade-long career—a post-rock texture here, a melodic venture there—the underlying mechanics are still, more or less, the same: gristly bass undercurrents, periodic thrash tantrums, and faint slivers of melodies buried beneath all the muck.
Doomy trappings disappear out of this Kentucky trio's barn for fourth LP Sister Faith. Metallic hardcore still gallops in short, sharp, steely blasts on a pair of two-minute openers, but Nineties grunge-dripping Seaweed now coats Ryan Patterson's punk heroes. More extreme exhales the five-minute push/pull of "Love Under Will," with its Joy Division bassline and siren riff relieving the pummel that segues into the BÖC-like best chorus of "Under the Blood of the Moon" and taut, insistent "Used Blood," a pulse-quickener gnashing akin to the Foo Fighters' redline debut.