As proven time and time again with UK outfit Hey Colossus, the only thing expectations can assume is that any encounter with them will be thickly compelling and singularly distinct in theirs and the surrounding musical landscape. And so it is with new album The Guillotine, a release taking the sextet’s sound to a new terrain of adventure and unpredictability whilst bewitching body and imagination like never before.
Formed in 2013, Hey Colossus have persistently nurtured and evolved their sound and its exploration; from the earlier lo-fi sourced, psychedelic and heavy noise rock bred triumphs of Radio Static High and In Black And Gold, the two albums which really drew thick attention the way of the band through the more hi-fi live causticity of Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo, nothing has ever stood still or relaxed into one realm of imagination. Within those albums, there was an open quest to push things further and further. The Guillotine is no different, a creative emprise of brooding tones and dark atmospheres woven into trespasses of the imagination and physical arousing of body and spirit. Using hindsight, there has been hints to this new vein of fertility within previous releases, especially those just mentioned but glimpses of something startling and vigorously thrilling which trespasses us now.
The Guillotine sees the controlled and new mesmeric tones of Paul Sykes to the fore, his presence almost like a storyteller and as boldly alluring as the sounds and voices found within the collective ingenuity of Rhys Llewellyn, Roo Farthing, Robert Davis, Joe Thompson, and Timothy Farthing alongside. The album begins with the tantalising dark psych rock of Honest To God, a track which is pure alchemy. Its initial wiry psych shimmer breeds a post punk lined meander as a slowly strolling guitar and bass grooves saunter across the awakening web of temptation. Every aspect is a rich lure, accentuated by Sykes’ gentle but dark vocal swing. Like a nostalgia kissed mix of Spizz Energi, Zanti Misfitz, and The Three Johns, the song teases the psyche with its seductive fingers while brewing up a raw energy which erupts with scuzzy zeal. Revolving through each stage of its perpetual metamorphosis, the song is pure manna for noise/post/psych punk hungry ears and appetite.
The exceptional start is swiftly followed by the fuzzier venture of Back In The Room, a track rolling on hypnotic rhythms and fizzing upon the senses with its three guitar pronged shuffle. The dual attack of vocals is just as magnetic, a collusion resourcefully driving the volatile proposition with a hint of The Birthday Party adding to its arousing shadows and increasingly rabid head. The song is part nagging dirge and part raw but multi-textured seduction united in a thorough captivation which eventually makes way for the gentler climate of Calenture Boy which smuggles its increasing delirium through ears while a smouldering climate is equally blessed with a sonic psychosis which sizzles with increasing heat second by second.
Its raw croon is followed by the mercurial enterprise of Experts Toll where beats dance with flirtatious trespass as the bass throws its own captivating dark steps into a jungle of craft and skittish imagination. The song’s relatively calm opening and agitated dexterity is subsequently given to more forceful inclinations, the track twisting into a heavily stomping, dirtily intensive brawl of enticing sound cored again by those unruffled vocals before Potions casts its own somnolent charms around ears like a melodic narcotic shaped with stout rhythms and veined with willowy psychedelic tendrils. As its creative elixir thickens so does its intensity but moving through the stages of evocative density with a calm and fluid ingenuity.
Though every track within The Guillotine had us locked into its snare, certain moments simply steal the passions; Englishman the stealthiest, glorious one of all. A stroll of senses clipping beats, broody basslines, and teasing riffs, the song simply bewitches. Scything melodies and infection loaded vocals only add to the irresistible bait enslaving ears and imagination which though not necessarily in matching sound, creates a tapestry rich in the attributes of XTC, Melvins, Talking Heads, and Fugazi; all twisted and reenergised by the unique imagination of Hey Colossus for total bliss.
The album concludes with firstly In A Collision, another brooding trap of sound and creative cunning as shadowy as it is instinctively catchy, even when its once darkly mellow body and atmosphere ignites with dirty raptorial virility. Raw beauty from start to finish, the song is succeeded by the album’s title track, an even more predatory proposal drenched in melancholy, antipathy, and sonic mesmerism with the bass at its earthiest, carnivorous best. With the guitars as potent in elegance or being abrasively bracing, the song is a final captivation to get hooked on and lost in.
The Guillotine is simply magnificent, leaping to the frontline of favourite releases of the year so far with its manipulation of body and imagination while proving Hey Colossus as one of, if not the, most exciting thing in the weaving of noise around.
The Guillotine is out June 2nd through Rocket Recordings and available @ https://heycolossus.bandcamp.com/album/the-guillotine
Pete RingMaster 02/06/2017
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