Music

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.


Coliseum

House With a Curse

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

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.

6

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.

Film

Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.

Music

3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".

Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.