Hey Colossus/Khost/ Colossloth, The Flapper, Birmingham, Feb 18th
Colossloth is already on stage when I arrive, he’s kneeling over what I take to be a bunch of pedals and boxes and such but his kit is obscured by a monitor, so maybe it’s just a speak and spell he’s got back there. Maybe he’s working on a jigsaw. Doesn’t sound much like it. There’s the expected drones, fizzing, scratchy sounds and structural lurches coming out the speakers of course but also a lighter touch, playful loops and samples you might even call pretty pop their heads up here and there. Not bad. Not bad at all. Next up, local duo Khost have managed to find the table Colossloth could have used and plonked their laptop on it. This aside Khost have clearly outgrown a more metal past in other bands but not yet had the funds to upgrade their very metal styled guitars. Musically they’ve upgraded to something in roughly the same part of town as Jesu. Dark and droning with vocals more whisper than scream, it’s not immediately engaging and it strikes me it might work better outside a live stage – you can check out a couple of their tunes here
Hey Colossus are flying right now. It’s not very often a band more than a decade into their career produce their best records but with last one ‘Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo’ they did just that and the new one ‘In Black And Gold’ goes it one louder. Sharper, tauter and leaner it squeezes two more tunes into a shorter running time with no loss of punch. Watching them play it live it’s clear to me for the first time just how carefully constructed and complex these songs are, the three guitars each playing different parts, the bass not just lazily following the drums, even the remarkable array of approaches frontman Paul Sykes brings to his vocals, all pieces fitting together like a remarkable 3-D puzzle. Sykes is an odd but hypnotic frontman, tall and rangy, his previously slightly scary cropped head and big beard currently downgraded to a non commital moustache/tour stubble/short back and sides look. He takes the stage in a formless jumper as unassuming as the rest of the band, there are no visual clues at all with this lot, they look like ordinary guys, nothing pigeonholes them with any of the psych/punk/metal/noise/kraut roots they draw on, it’s just the sound. Even Sykes taller than the rest of them, and as singer the natural focal point, spends as much time turned in toward the band as out to the audience, there’s no real stage craft to speak of, certainly no gimmickry. They are amazingly good though. Focussed and lethal. They start with a new tune soon to appear on a limited split single somewhere. It’s a belter. They play some other new stuff in the set but other wise it’s the lion’s share of the new album and some of Cuckoo… ‘Hot Grave’ is massive, ‘Hey, Dead Eyes Up!’ fierce and righteous. It’s a disappointingly poor turn out from the crowd, but a strong showing on stage and they close with the last track off the album ‘Sinking, feeling’ which has a conceptual rightness to it but is slightly anti-climactic. It’s not what you’re used to. Thank God.