[16 October 2011]
Recorded at the Gainesville, Florida club, the Atlantic, this disc finds Louisville, Kentucky’s Coliseum paired up with the Canadian outfit Burning Love. It’s a curious partnership, one that burns a deep dark hole into the back pocket of the listener’s psyche and hangs in the air with a foulness usually reserved for a bad bag of street drugs or the choking waft of a hangover.
The whole dang thing kicks off with a full set by Coliseum, the sludgy, Melvins-esque (yeah, that comparison must never get old; sorry lads) troupe kicks in to high gear with the prom anthem “Skeleton Smile”, segues into the tinnitus-inducing “Statuary” and leaps and lobs all the way through to New Of British Heavy Metal-cum-rodeo metal that is “Defeater”. It goes down like a bag of downer-laced Lay’s.
The problem is that Coliseum, as potent as the band can be, as choogly and gurgly as the riffs get, as much as the music makes you want to praise the loud and pass the amphetamines, lacks the kind of hooks that could transport the band into the pantheon of The Greats. So, you listen and bob your head and oooh and aaaahhhh through this twist and that turn, this riff and that beat, one howl or another, but at the end of the night you go to bed with your ears ringing but no real recollection of how they got that way other than, as Bevis and Butthead, poets of the late twentieth century would say, it was loud.
The Canadian contingent fares about the same with a series of speed-skating barkalogues that begin with “Memento Mori” (“Remember death”, just in case it’s been a few semesters since Latin) and closes out scant minutes later with a song that shares its name with the band. With a hint of Mötörhead here, a dash of early Voivod there and a whole lot of savagery in between the tracks blur together like cities in the night. (At least the way you think of them when you think about the way that they’re sung about in ‘80s heavy metal road ballads.)
What’s missing from this affair – and so many of the live releases visited upon the heavy music genre – is the smell of stale beer and general odor of year-old puke that seems to rise up to offend once the amps have heated up and the alcohol really starts to flow. Until that time what you’re subjected to is an hour of music that feels more like punishment for something you haven’t done rather than the good time you want when you grab one of these suckers out of the heavy metal cooler.
Both these acts – Coliseum especially – have reputations as powerful live bands and it’s easy to understand why. This kind of crazy energy must go over gangbusters in VFW halls and church basements. Here, it’s a document of something that, as the saying goes, you really had to be there for.