REVIEW: Colossal – Nowhere [EP/2016]


Artist: Colossal  

Album: Nowhere – EP


You awake with your senses stolen. While you’re fairly sure you aren’t physically blindfolded or gagged, you cannot speak and you cannot see. Every perceptive neuron in your body seems as if it’s encased in cement—there is no feeling on your skin, no sight and no sound.

It’s almost as if you have simply ceased to exist.

This is something close to the paralyzing feeling one gets after the first crushing blow dealt by Californian beatdown-turned-downtempo act Colossal. After a lengthy silence, the group are back with more belligerence and brutality than you can even imagine—with ferocious, energetic two steps that drop into earth-shaking breakdowns and group-splitting sequences of low, slow hatred, Colossal’s Nowhere is a release that sees the band living up to their gargantuan name, blending aggression, energy and catchiness in a way that most modern heavy bands can only dream of.

If you’re looking for smooth grooves, soaring amounts of shred and skin-splitting technicality, you may as well stop reading right now. Colossal aren’t a band out to awe you with solos and super-speed fills; rather, they are sludgy, unrelenting hatred. From start to finish, Nowhere is abusive, battering the listener with beatdown-infused riffs that drop into devastating displays of downtempo deathcore done superbly. Percussionist Will Washburn is key in defining the band’s dynamic—with opening breakdowns like the one found following the eerie sample in “Fallen” leading into the driving barrage of energetic drumming and two-steppe segment that kicks off “Hope Is Dead.” Washburn does little in the way of painstakingly technical percussion—but rather serves as a dominating, deep heartbeat that fills Colossal’s heart with red-hot aggression. “Crosshairs II” and the instrumental “Ninth Circle” see him doing this exceptionally—especially the latter, where he works side-by-side with Bassist ArroldWalton. Walton actually plays an integral role in Colossal’s sound—unusual for a bass player in a band as dissonant and devastating as Colossal—remaining audible throughout the entirety of Nowhere, adding unimaginable heft and heaviness to the already low-and-slow fretwork from guitarists Mike Swimmer and Joey Pabon. Swimmer and Pabon take turns swinging at the listener like pissed off sledgehammers, content with nothing until the listener is reduced to a bloody, puss-riddled pulp. “Broken” is an excellent example; even after the vocals have faded from the mix, Pabon and Swimmer continue on, dragging knives along the listeners skin until there is nothing but bare muscle and bone left. While Colossal’s quartet of crushing musicians may completely omit technicality, they creatively oscillate between riff-driven and dancy heavy hardcore and spin-kicking, fist-swinging hyperdissonance, redefining how the listener thinks of “hatred.”

To speak of hatred, however, is to speak of the uncompromising and unyielding aggression and anger abundant in the bellows and burly shouts of frontman Dan Williams. Williams, simply put, attacks songs like “Crosshairs II” and “Hope is Dead” with enough intensity to break the entire state of California right off of the coast and send it plummeting to the bottom of the ocean. “Crosshairs” and “Respect Through Fear” see Williams dominating with straightforward and sinister power, where the more dancy and (dare I say) up-beat “Crosshairs II” sees Williams catchy as well as crushing. The true moments of vocal brilliance, however, come from hearing Williams work side by side with Kublai Khan’s Matt Honeycutt. Together, Williams and Honeycutt make a perfect team; with Williams’ gritty, low growls contrasting Honeycutt’s bitter, almost-shrill shouts, the duo oscillate back and forth with a devastating adaptation of The Lords Prayer that will leave the listener on both knees, with their soul leaking out through their gaping mouth and pulverized ears.

Nowhere is a lesson in decimation—from the crippling levels of foreboding and dissonance that kick it off to the last rib-cracking, sternum-shattering chugs that bring it to a close, Nowhere is everything one could want or expect from a band that goes by the name Colossal. While it is true that they don’t do much in the way to appeal to fans of more technical or groovy music, they more than make up for it with an ear-catching amalgam of heavy hardcore, downtempo deathcore and punchy, perfect production. With enough samples to give the record a nostalgic atmosphere, and more than enough over-the-top aggression to level Mt. Everest or crack continents in two, Colossal are a band who take their name with lethal seriousness—meaning you should do the same if you’re into low, slow and raunchy music.



For Fans Of: Feign, Genocide District, Kublai Khan, Rex

By: Connor Welsh