Review Summary: Black magic punk in full swing!
It's peculiar that one of the best rock songs of the year thus far deals with witchcraft-obsessed punk rockers. “Black Magic Punks” boasts an unstoppable leading riff which, along with no-frills attitude, makes for a refreshingly unpretentious anthem that's full of restless energy. The track also signals that Louisville trio Coliseum have found their own niche. Their sound harks back to the glory days of sludgy noise rock, being composed of pounding bass lines, robust drumming and the guitar play that strikes a fine balance between a dissonant low end and pungent upper register. This aesthetic, complemented with the crisp production of Jawbox' J. Robbins, is in full swing through the entire running time of the band's fourth full length Sister Faith
. The album is more than a nostalgic trip to the 1990s though. Coliseum have an uncanny knack for crafting darkly tinged music, and the lyrics penned by frontman Ryan Patterson hit hard with apt existential observations, a trenchant critique of faith, and a wave of tenderness thrown in for good measure.
The record often oozes with exquisite songwriting, and thus sees Coliseum perfecting their edgy brand of punk rock in several songs. “Fuzzbang” almost matches the audacity of “Black Magic Punks,” but it's a totally different beast altogether. The fuzzed-out riff provides an excellent backdrop for Patterson's yearning for change. The track's built around a massive groove which, along with a laid-back vibe, closely resembles Torche's stoner pop in its most hook-laden incarnation. Elsewhere, “Late Night Train” is a bitter account of time passing that packs a punch with gang vocals in its enchanting, if twisted refrain. Patterson proclaims You can ignore me but I know you're all afraid
in this bleak punk rock classic in the making. In contrast, the other two stand-out cuts are essentially love songs. While “Love Under Will” effectively underplays the trio's signature sonic assault and vocal gruffness, “Everything In Glass” kicks off with a paranoid solo of TAD's origin that unravels into the most piercing guitar work on the album. Both songs are absolutely endearing in its lyrical simplicity sporting such lines as: You go, I follow / Say the word just once
and Then she comes to me / And everything is clear
. Patterson knows how to establish a meaningful connection with his audience, and therefore the emotional backbone many of these tracks have leaves a profound impression.
often verges on perfection as all the aforementioned songs might be considered little masterpieces in time. The remaining material doesn't always hold up so well though. The onset of the album is especially underwhelming with three straightforward tunes that just bleed into one another. There are a couple of moments here and there when the presentation feels overly homogenous and limited lacking in sonic diversity. Sister Faith
may not be entirely consistent, yet in the long run it proves way more heartfelt and genuinely bruised than a typical hardcore punk offering. Coliseum continue to show tremendous potential for growth. They are destined to come out with their magnum opus sooner rather than later provided they strengthen their song craft and expand the scope of influences. For now, they've delivered a rollicking punk rock record that bursts with many undoubted highlights.