On this, our third attempt at sullying the growing-good name of the cosmic-crush-collective known as Hey Colossus by shackling them with the “Band of the Week” designation, we’re bound to be repeating ourselves. Hey Colossus, on “Radio Static High” – their second, superlative full-length album released this year alone (on the ever-exploding Rocket Recordings), are doing nothing of the sort.
“Radio Static High” would seem by many measures to be the high-water mark for all Hey Colossus releases thus far, and not just for the boundless creative energy the band has so securely harnessed.
From the opening, pyromaniac-on-Prozac dirge of the title track, to the closing, shard-spewing shuffle of “Honey,” the true magnificence of the multi-hued, multi-headed, multi-heavy Hey Colossus machine is on display. Crater-causing fuzz-bomb detonations abound, on “March of the Headaches” and “Hesitation Time,” exploding this way and that, oddly-timed and unpredictable. But as with “In Black and Gold” from earlier this year, there’s an incredible shimmer, a sheen, a sparkling refinement evident in the latest songs from Hey Colossus – not pop-y, not hook-y, but then, not not pop-y, not not hook-y. It’s Hey Colossus on a higher octane, burning their anger cleanly, frustration finding fruition in songs that recall “Remain in Light” or “Funeral at the Movies” as much and as magically as they might recall “Houdini” (or, say, “Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo“).
Unparalleled, unbridled creativity? It’s a neat trick that Hey Colossus have mastered. Here, we reveal the secret blueprint to their success:
See? It’s easy – any one can do it. Or so it would seem, when we listen to the easy-to-love, utterly immediate energy that infests “Summer Tombs,” the second album from the Hey Colossus-related Henry Blacker, and spectacularly, also released this year (on the also spectacular Riot Season Records). “Summer Tombs” is a nail-bomb spewing riff-rocket of an album, going down as smoothly and addictively as your favorite (or most lethal) intoxicant.
In simplest terms, “Summer Tombs” is an album we can relate to, terrifying as that may be. It’s loud and lumpy rock and roll just the way we like it, a mutant-metal battle-cry of adult angst, back pain and Monks-level complications, wherein the singer just might sigh, “aw, for fuck’s sake” in the middle of a song (as occurs in the brilliant “Shit Magus” – and we’re inclined to have a custom-made football jersey ordered with this name on the back). It’s an odd, electrifying eruption of three musketeers fueled by a “QOTSA-first-album-only” ethos that sounds serious, while being not even half-serious about it. Serious bands don’t come up with song titles like “Cold Laking,” but Henry Blacker does, and that’s what makes our love for Henry Blacker so serious. Seriously. It’s the sound of Tony Iommi taking a break from the toot in order to play you the riffs from “Mob Rules” just a half-step slower and saying, “fuck the fringed-leather – let’s boogie.” Henry Blacker responds to the musical question, “What if ZZ Top recorded ‘Welcome to Hell’?” with a query of its own – “What if Venom recorded ‘Tres Hombres’?”
Seven songs in thirty minutes, without a wasted moment, Henry Blacker’s second album is one that we consider perfect. Play often and at high volume. Choose your poison and met us in the “Summer Tombs.”
“Suffering is our best teacher because it hangs onto us and keeps us in its grip until we have learnt that particular lesson. Only then does suffering let go. If we haven’t learnt our lesson, we can be quite sure that the same lesson is going to come again, because life is nothing but an adult education class, If we don’t pass in any of the subjects, we just have to sit the examination again. Whatever lesson we have missed, we will get it again. That is why we find ourselves reacting to similar situations in similar ways many times.” – Ayya Khema