Thursday, February 20, 2014

Colosus - Blestem

Colosus is a one man black metal band with music that comes nowhere close to the enormity such band name would suggest. While taking cues from the more somber and wistful moods of black metal’s often maligned DSBM sub-genre, Colosus’s barren “Blestem” is firmly in the atmospheric school of black metal, which can also be maligned a bit in this case. Imagining a castrated and stripped down Walknut provides for a good starting point in understanding Colosus’s sound. “Blestem” also invites comparisons to Coldworld due to the cover track “Red Snow” and from the dry electric fuzzy approach. “Blestem” is certainly more organic and warmer than anything from Coldworld, (not that that says much) but in deviating from that extreme production approach Colosus also becomes much more indiscernible. A stale atmospheric band with less atmosphere than Mars.

A colossal problem on “Blestem” is the inclination towards ambient filler, and when all is accounted for time-wise the album is about 30% filler. Accounting is a revealing word here because the ambient sections make the listener ask questions like “how much is left?” “how long has this gone on for?” and “is this a prudent investment of time?” The answers to these questions do not bode well for Colosus. Ambient sections here are filler because they are overwhelmingly unnecessary and flat. An example of the unnecessary aspect is how the very first song is a four minute ambient track, presumably acting as an overly long introduction for the album. The very next song however has about a minute and a half intro of its own. Flatness on the other hand is most obvious on the excruciating title track “Blestem,” which is essentially one note extended over four and a half minutes with interjections of bass rumbles and random screaming. Even the act of describing this song leaves me in disbelief, I had tried listening to it many times before realizing it was essentially one long shimmering note. While enormously terrible, this is slightly less worse than one would expect a single note song would be. This is because the song comas away consciousness or induces what psychologists refer to as song skipping behavior, a coping mechanism also known as avoidance. Speaking of psychology, it’s possible that these ambient parts might be an influence from dsbm - weaving the inclinations towards self harm into the fabric of the music itself by using these parts to commit musical suicide.

Filler aside, the rest of the music isn’t terrible. Light and slow synths progressions have guitars draped over, often with tremolo picking to create that familiar black metal wall. This is enough to give off the impression of grandeur but Colosus doesn’t execute it effectively as the riffs lack much depth. Each of the palatable notes seem to switch off without much foundation of mood or more than a vague relationship to one another. Part of this is caused by the abundance of whole-note transitions, giving the progressions an especially predictable and slow character. Small melodic figures are often stretched out over a long period of time. Large parts of the album consist of shifting between two chords or the use of figures with just a handful of notes to build songs. This could be fine but there is little rhythmic variation and as noted above the note choices lack a sense of melodic curve. While the drums are varied enough to provide some sense of drive with their stalwart beats and able fills, the vocals contribute very little to the music. A more verbose vocal style would be a good vehicle to add depth through a overarching melody over these songs. Instead, the vocals act as a flourish of little consequence. These issues all paint a barren backdrop to all ready dry music, which makes the liberal use of flat ambient sections all the more tiresome. Imagine a tech-death band using guitar solos as a break from techy-stuff. This dances around the main issue a bit though, the variation problem is only an issue of inelegantly changing between two different musical problems.

With an album that is over an hour long, the amount of filler appears puzzling until one also considers the melodic stretching and repetition throughout the album: “Blestem” lacks enough ideas to support its own weight. As an aftermath of this the album turns from something that could have been fine, if run of the mill, and degrades into unpleasant territory. It should be apparent that a large portion of the review has been about ambient laziness that takes up less than a third of the album. Music’s quality however cannot be translated into pure mathematics, and on this album that truth demonstrates itself through the major and negative impact these parts have. Sometimes an awful third makes for a bad whole, especially when the remainder was nothing special to begin with. 

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