Packaged in a dark green, threatening digi-pack, ‘Sempervirens’ is the five track debut EP (six if you count the brief intro) from the Swiss sludge metal band Colossus Fall. Influenced by the likes of Neurosis, Isis and converge, Colossus Fall are a brutal experience and, more importantly, they never fail to appreciate the subtle nuances that the aforementioned acts bring to their sound, imbuing the five teeth-rattling tracks here with a dark sense of menace and atmosphere that few bands successfully master. Formed in 2011, Colossus Fall are a relatively new band, and yet in their year or so of life they have done a grand job of developing their own vicious take on the sludge genre, combining the raw visceral punch of the Melvins with elements of punk and post rock.
A brief intro notwithstanding, the EP begins with the brutal ‘Human shield’ which sees the vocals roared over a coruscating backdrop of monumental riffs that veer wildly between Metallica-esque chug and brutal sludge with ease. It’s a furious and searing opening which could only be improved by a clearer drum sound, the current production job rendering them in a rather boxy manner that detracts from the fine performance given by Bastien. ‘Despite’ is even more crushing, the brutal percussion urging the guitarists David and Philippe to push forward with unconscious abandon as Quentin tears his throat apart on vocals. The highlight of the EP is the bruisingly atmospheric ‘cold night’ which sees the band flex their muscles on a contemplative track that is both searingly heavy and yet more panoramic than the blistering opening tracks. Where those songs blustered and deployed overwhelming firepower, here ‘cold night’ operates on stealth, the riffs insidious and serpentine, working their way into your brain even as Quentin continues to beat his fists against the door.
Of the remaining two tracks, ‘Kill the Shepherd’ is a furious, sub-three minute blast that still succeeds in surprising thanks to a wonderfully syncopated rhythm that is more jazz than metal, the band’s rhythms section cooperating in a manner worthy of a band many times their years whilst the guitars pour on huge molten layers of devastatingly distorted sludge. Final track, the haughtily titled ‘Colossus’ rounds out the EP with churning layers of flaming guitar, dissonant chiming harmonies and a bass sound stolen from the earliest days of Mudhoney. It is a clear indication of the potential this band have and as it winds its way through increasingly complex riffs and Quentin’s brutal roar, you can only hope the band have the time and space to work on a full-length record soon, because the indications are there that Colossus Fall would produce a blinder.
Overall this is one hell of a debut EP. Colossus Fall have the songs, the skills and the attitude to become a truly awe-inspiring band if they can continue making music of this quality. It is not entirely perfect – the drums, as has been noted elsewhere – are not as well produced as they might be, although they do the job and this is no slight on Bastien’s excellent performance – and the overall production lacks the bass kick that would truly level the listener with its ferocity. Overall, however, it is the songs, the intent and the skill that shine through and there is no doubt that Colossus Fall are a band to watch most closely. In the meantime get hold of ‘Sempervirens’, it is as thrilling, as vital and as brutal experience as you could wish from the band at this stage.
Find out more at the band’s Myspace page