Hailing from Vetlanda, Swedish metallers Koloss take the imposing isolation and you suspect harsh wintery conditions of their home surroundings into the expansive and enveloping intensive sounds of their new album. They create as evidenced forcibly upon Empower the Monster, an intrusive and heavily enveloping encounters which smother and suffocate yet equally seduce and captivate senses and imagination. It is a demanding proposition but one with invigorating rewards and lingering incitements which ensures that the quartet is not just another metal leviathan intent on snuffing out your light.
Self-released digitally last year, Empower The Monster now gets its worldwide unveiling via Argonauta Records as a limited edition 250 copy vinyl release. The follow up to the band’s acclaimed debut album End of The Chayot of 2011, Empower the Monster takes the sound of Koloss to darker, heavier, and more dramatic limits. Formed in 2007 by long-time friends Alexander Johansson (guitar) and Cristoffer Karlsson (lead vocals/guitar), taking inspirations from the likes of Tool, ISIS, Neurosis, and Cult of Luna into their invention, Koloss soon grew with the addition of drummer Oscar Siggeström and guitarist Victor Clausson, Karlsson at that point playing bass within the band. A few switches within the band over that bass position followed before Henrik Hedberg joined up to take over, Clausson having already left. The band began working on their debut in 2010 with its release as a free download coming the following year to strong success. Creating a tempestuous and enthralling landscape of rapacious sound and emotionally charged intensity, Empower The Monster makes for a startling evolution to its predecessor whilst reinforcing all the potent elements and depths discovered within End of The Chayot. A furious leaden voracious storm of post and sludge metal with earthy progressive endeavour and stifling doom bred atmospheres, the album is a compelling consumption of the senses; maybe not one to ignite raging fires in the aligned passions but certainly impressive enough to have them bubbling enthusiastically.
Opening track From the Sea (The Birth of a Monster) instantly has ears and thoughts hooked, groaning guitars and hypnotically striding rhythms prowling the senses as the song stretches its sinews and expression. The caustic strokes provided by Johansson and Karlsson awaken the imagination right away whilst synapses are tenderised by the compelling beats of Siggeström. It is an immediately incendiary and provocative incitement which only intensifies its temptation as the track settles into a carnivorous pose, chugging riffs gnawing at the ears as broader sonic scythes scorch the wounds. It is an irresistible entrance which draws a brief sight of annoyance when the song slips into gentler melodic scenery, though its emotive embrace and evocative sonic colour soon has the imagination eagerly investigating its crevices and corners. Merging both aspects with skill and intensity as the harsh growls of Karlsson graze air and landscape, the track continues to pulls the listener deeper into its oppressive depths, all the time rewarding with unpredictable and intriguing enterprise. At its heart there is a sinister cinematic feel to the experience which only adds to the exploration and drama, the outstanding track with another rhythmic slavery bookending the immersive narrative, a thrilling awakening of the menace within itself and the thoughts of its recipient.
The following Cleanse which emerges from the closing caustic glaze of its predecessor instantly takes the listener on a slow melancholic flight, bass and guitars cradling the journey with shadows whilst almost yawning jaws of sonic expression glance provocatively over the journey. Like with the first song the beginning of the track is mesmeric, a potent coaxing into a harsher hostile climate which roars and expels its intimidation but still entertains the earlier riveting emotive hues and melody infused designs. Though less wildly enticing than the opener, the track winds around the passions in an impossible to ignore predation and heavy footed stalking to once again raise the temperature of an engrossed attention.
Beyond the Horizon in its own distinctive harsh scenario and intrusive character is a similar confrontation, intensity and voracious aggression a formidable provocateur but also welcoming to the excellent clean vocals and melodic caresses within its dominance. Bones feel the chill and emotions the loneliness of the scenery but also the heat of the passion and intensity squalling within the simultaneously bracing and stuffy atmosphere. It is a masterful emotion racked expedition which within its long single minded oppression drenched lurching and lumbering gait is constantly taking on enterprising twists and sonic stimulants, a premise stretched further by the closing Building Arks. Rhythms stab and probe from within the cold sonic bluster and caustic intensity which again wraps the body and senses in an almost primal incitement, vocals only accentuating the grievous and severe breath of the surrounding canvas. As with all the tracks though there is an ‘oasis’ of warmth and respite within the bitter climate, a bewitching melodic enticement from the guitar joined by clean emotive vocals to temper the burdensome spirit of the apocalyptic backdrop.
The song brings the impressive album to a fine end; a conclusion where you only then really realise the pressure the senses were pleasingly put under by Koloss and Empower The Monster as silence roars in their place. The album is a difficult encounter in many ways but only in the demands it makes and bravery it needs from the listener to fully immerse within its rugged realm, a decision definitely rewarded heavily the lower you sink below its surface.
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