Coliseum: House With a Curse

Is it hardcore? Is it stoner rock? Is it something else entirely? You won't figure it out by only listening to it once, that's for sure.


House With a Curse

Label: Temporary Residence Ltd.
US Release Date: 2010-06-21
UK Release Date: 2010-06-28
Label website
Artist website

What separates Coliseum from the majority of other hardcore bands in the world is their obvious love of groove-laden alternative rock such as Queens of the Stone Age. Most of their songs are catchy, with great hooks and interesting structures. The genre fusion they utilize likens their sound more to stoner rock bands like The Sword, Baroness and Cursed than other hardcore bands. However, while that new approach does help them stand out from the pack, it also has the potential to alienate traditional hardcore fans looking for simplistic song structures and sing-along lyrics. Coliseum doesn't seem to care about that potential problem, though, forging ahead with their sludgy hardcore sound on House With a Curse, their first album for new label Temporary Residence Ltd.

Right from the start, it's clear that Coliseum has only increased the portions of groove rock in their sound. After the weird instrumental opening of "Introduction", the album jumps right into "Blind in One Eye", which sounds like it could be a B-side of The Sword's last album. It also quickly becomes evident that Coliseum is taking the Rage Against the Machine approach to instrumental mixing, making the bass just as prominent as the guitar throughout the album, sometimes even more prominent. "Cloaked in Red" is the obvious example of this, with Mike Pascal strumming his way through the entire lead line on bass, while the guitar is barely even noticeable for the first half of the song. The idea is to put the primary focus on the groove elements in the song, and it works well to that effect.

However, while genre diversity can and should be embraced, it becomes a problem when diversity leads to the appearance having no direction. The reason that Coliseum's previous two albums worked with this formula is that the hardcore parts were still the clear-cut foundation of the sound, with the groove parts mixed in to add variety. House With a Curse doesn't have such a foundation because it's unclear what the primary focus of the sound should be. The emphasis is clearly on the groove parts throughout the album, but the hardcore parts -- repetitive riffs, simplified time structures and drum parts, and Ryan Patterson's acidic vocals -- are all constants throughout the album, as well.

Songs that go off the map like "Skeleton Smile" only complicate things even more, taking completely different approaches that don't center on either groove or hardcore. Sharp-eared listeners will also catch additional instruments like organ, violin, accordion, and tambourine mixed into some songs, at which point it finally becomes clear that trying to give this album a genre classification is pointless. It's only then that listeners can really find enjoyment in this album and its purpose -- experimentation purely for the sake of itself. That said, few can deny the fact that once these songs are accepted for what they are, they become fun and interesting.

Only over time and repeated listens does this album get more enjoyable and less confusing. But the first few listens will leave many feeling lost, because of the differences between House With a Curse and the band's first two albums. Fans going in expecting to hear the traditional Coliseum sound will walk away feeling disappointed. In that sense, this album is akin to Sepultura's first two albums with Derrick Green singing, because the sound changes take time to get used to. If you're hoping for a traditional hardcore album from Coliseum, you probably won't ever get it. But if you can devote the time and repeated listens to this particular album, you'll grow to like it over time.


The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.