Southern New Jersey swamp things Kolossor have gone every which way possible in conjuring variations that build upon their self-titled 2017 EP. That EP was bland and thankfully the Mastodon-ish ringing guitar parts are limited to the songs from it (“Pillars), because the rest of the album never rests upon one trick or treat too often. Hollow-shouted vocals offer a 90’s flattened shout that sets out to expound some level of suffering inherent to human existence on ‘Crown of Horns’. Though Kolossor are pushed as a destroyer of worlds and heaviness, I sense a thread of a chronic but toothless bitterness throughout the record that only ever verges on angst. It is a decent debut full-length from an unassuming band that manages to hold my attention despite it’s ambitious length.
“Tempest” was the first song that caught me off guard here as it invokes a hint of the clanging bass and shouted fury of mid-90’s AmRep sludge/noise rock evolution before finishing itself off with a slippery groove riff at the end. Paired with “Wall of Sleep” this early thread of lumbering quirk was my favorite part of the record with touches of early High on Fire and stoner rock edging in too. You can really hear Kolossor reaching for something inspired and different even if they don’t always nail it. A sludge band not simply in love with their sound, but actually doing something with it, is rare. My interest dropped off outside of the roll they were on “Tempest” through “Thundering Helm”, a track which has an early Floor feeling to it — but that is a pretty good run of songs for a sludge debut. I think “Planet Hunter” is an appropriate closer but the band could generally do wonders clipping the chuggy Matt Pike riffing down to half.
For a slugged-out stoner influenced sludge metal band Kolossor are definitely tuned towards the ‘sludge metal for sludge heads’ crowd but even if you only dabble in the hipster corners of doom their debut tweaks the formula just enough to self-differentiate. If they trim the fat and stick to the killer off-kilter riffs and stoner metal breaks at the heart of ‘Crown of Horns’ they’ll be onto something great. If you’re not sure what songs to bother with definitely start with “Wall of Sleep” and “The Falling Wreckage” as they should be ciphers enough to warm up to the sludge lexicon Kolossor are working with.
A pyre in the barrens. 3.25/5.0
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