Back when nu metal was just dying a timely death, back in the early two thousands, London spewed into the world something as the perfect antidote, in six piece Hey Colossus. At the time they went reasonably unnoticed, but over the years the name has become more and more relevant in the strengthening of credible British bands. The name is synonymous with quality, and even throughout their seventeen years, they’ve shifted through the gears successively. Several lineup changes later, and after a dozen albums, now due for imminent release, is the new album Dances/Curses. It’s being released in the UK on band founder Joe Thompson’s very own Wrong Speed Records in November of twenty twenty.
Throughout their evolution Hey Colossus have been banded in with such genres as sludge metal, alternative rock, noise rock, psychedelic rock, krautrock, and even drone. After hearing the latest album, I have to concur on the drone, and krautrock, with ample splattering’s of both alt and psychedelic rock.
There’s something strangely familiar with Hey Colossus to me, I’m not sure how they were under my radar for so long, but I’m glad I am finally getting on the train now. For me, this is a matured, considered album, it feels like a grown-up album. It isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is, I don’t feel like it’sbeing anything other than itself, and that truly is enlightening. It doesn’t make any compromises, so by the same token, it doesn’t conform either.
In an age where the parameters are getting wider and wider, to be off grid and doing your own thing truly does make you unique. The need to conform is gone, and I feel that it is that which drives Hey Colossus. There is no part in the ensemble which is underplayed, all six musicians make the most of their time, and it’s the sum of those elements which provides such a rich musical display.
The overriding thing about this album is its swagger. To say that it’s comparable to Queens Of The Stone Age I feel is a fair statement, as it pulls comparison on several levels, it sounds like their classic Songs For The Deaf era. Most notably on the first few tracks, The Eyeball Dance, Donkey Jaw, and Medal, all of which are reminiscent of the finest Queens OfThe Stone Age musical era.
Opener The Eyeball Dance I swear makes me want to vocally break in to the list of drugs, followed by the immortal ‘co,co,co,co, co, co…..caine!!’ chorus from Feel Good Hit Of The Summer. That being said, its far more psychedelic than QOTSA, and it feels far trippier and retro too. Another one of the most notable things for me is the clarity of the vocal, it definitely lifts the whole affair, as being able to comprehend what is being said is mostly always a bonus.
While most of the tracks on this seventy-five-minute opus are under the five-minute mark, there is one track, A Trembling Rose whichweighs in at over sixteen minutes long, and then even gets its own Reprise straight after. So, in total it works out at just under twenty minutes for those two tracks alone. And on those two tracks you’re taken on such a sonic journey, that it’s hard to believe there is still plenty more to come after it’s finished.
passion, kick ass musicianship, and a warmth so rarely found in heavy music, and its that which truly sets Hey Colossus apart from the pack…
One thing I do notice is that Hey Colossus have definitely found their sound, and they embrace it completely. They use it to the best of their abilities, and this is what makes them pretty unique. Even if they do step foot in to Queens OfThe Stone Age territory, they still make it their own, and pull it off with such style that by the end of it all, you aren’t left thinking Queens of The Stone Age, you’re left knowing that its Hey Colossus.
One thing that does impress me is that for everything else that’s going on, it also feels very retro too. At times I feel like there’s a The Animals feel to Hey Colossus. Considering that this is a brand-new album, it’s hard to place it on a timeline. At times its very much right now, twenty-first century, while at others you would be forgiven for thinking its ten or fifteen years old. Then there are moments that feel like its decades older, even as far back as the sixties. The mixing of styles really adds to this, and it makes Dances / Curses completely timeless by its very nature.
This is especially relevant to track four, Dreamer Is A Lying State. There’s something really sixties about this track, but with an additional layer, feeling like a The Animals track, but updated. I believe that this is in part due to the darker bass, and also the extra layers of soundscapes, giving it depth and a modern vibrancy.
Throughout the whole album there are surprising moments, and for me a highlight has to be Mark Lanegan, who appears on The Mirror. The same mister Lanegan who I have loved ever since first hearing Sweet Oblivion by the Screaming Trees. Throughout his whole career Mark has touched so much stuff, Mad Season, Queens Of The Stone Age, and The Gutter Twins but to name a few, and as iconic musicians go, he is up there with the best. He isn’t known for making second rate music, and here again is another outstanding performance by the charismatic singer.
Tracks such as Stylites In Reverse and U Cowboy really showcase Hey Colossus more trippy side, and these moments help break up what could potentially be a very similar sounding, keeping things fresh, and bringing those layers in to play nicely.
As the album rumbles on, I stop taking notes, I close my eyes, relax, and just slip in to the music. I completely forget all of my worldly worries, and let the music take me away completely. As it finishes, I feel completely zoned out, and it takes a moment to come to, and restart the album.
For an album to make me feel that way means it’ll be in my heart, and on my stereo for a very long time to come. This album fills me with so much joy, and leaves me completely contented. I’m sure any Hey Colossus fan will absolutely love Dances/Curses, and if you’re new to the party, you won’t be disappointed. It isn’t heavy heavy, there’s no shouting, and it isn’t filled with aggressive passages about destroying the world around us, but what it is filled with is passion, kick ass musicianship, and a warmth so rarely found in heavy music, and its that which truly sets Hey Colossus apart from the pack.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish