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In Black and Gold


Emerging in a haze of demented riff science and booze-addled abandon, London-based tinnitus machine Hey Colossus have carved out a notable niche for themselves in the British underground's murkier quarters. They've dished out a formidable array of wax over the last decade, specializing in a primordial barrage of abject noise from overheated amp stacks. Yet for all the grit and gnarl of their output thus far, it's seemingly only been a warm-up for their latest opus, which sees their monstrous assault finely honed into an album as beguiling as it is bulldozing. In Black and Gold, their eighth album proper and first for Rocket Recordings, ushers in a new incarnation of Hey Colossus. Marrying malevolent attack to expansive celestial splendor, In Black and Gold follows a sonic trajectory that expands on Hey Colossus's trademark ornery overload. The songs herein may be leaner and more artful than the fearsome sound that made the band's name on albums like 2008's Project: Death and the monstrous 2013 opus Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo (MIE 018CD/LP), but Hey Colossus remains possessed of the Stoogian and Stygian wrath that fuels their noise rock transgression. With their maximalist tendencies augmented by a sharp focus on space and restraint, not to mention a refreshing stylistic diversity, the band delivers some strange aural alchemy. Here, they sound as comfortable tackling electronically-fried dub mantras like "Lagos Atom" as they do the Cluster-esque lullaby of opener "Hold On." Yet there's no shortage of primal rock action to be had on In Black and Gold; on "Sisters and Brothers" they summon up a swaggering, demented groove that sashays like a zombified Gun Club, while on the dramatic spaghetti-psych of the title-track a revelatory cinematic sprawl of sound recalls The Bad Seeds and The 13th Floor Elevators engaged in a psychic duel in the noonday sun. Hey Colossus have always made fine work on the vital and Spinal Tap-approved "fine line between clever and stupid." Yet with In Black and Gold, in a laudable leap of faith, they've stepped beyond, and the result is both vicious and visionary. These unpretentious underworld overlords have emerged from the shadows to create an avant-garage pièce de résistance, finding that the sunlight suits them better than they ever realized.