Some bands are lucky to release two great records in their entire career. In what could look like grandstanding, Hey Colossus will have released two great records within about eight months (and don’t forget Tim and Joe also released a stunning Henry Blacker album in the spring). February’s In Black & Gold further advanced their move away from their filthy sludge rock roots that began on 2013’s Cuckoo Lives Life Like Cuckoo. But Radio Static High is their most diverse and powerful release yet, playing to the six-piece’s many strengths.
The abrasive, magnificent sludge hasn’t vanished entirely, mind: after the brooding, opiated title track, March Of The Headaches is built around a particularly nasty, lurching riff and Paul Sykes’ menacing snarl, a real largactil anthem, and Snapping Undone and Hesitation Time are beasts. Numbed Out is another dirty churn of a track, a recent live favourite, the band grinding it out like men possessed. Closing track Honey might be the most demented of all, driven by a similarly lopsided rhythm to Led Zeppelin’s Trampled Underfoot, with Sykes unravelling over the top. But there’s more light here than in the past – for example, Memories Of Wonder is simply beautiful, finding yearning and melancholy in feedback and detuned guitars – and in Hop The Railings they’ve recorded their least ‘Hey Colossus’ song ever and it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done. Propelled by a sinuous, snaking guitar line, a motorik Dinger-beat and some alarmingly acidic jarring moments, Hop The Railings manages to sound like Can, Tinariwen, Television and Liars but still sound like nobody else. It’s hard to believe that this is the same band that recorded even something as recent as 2011’s RRR, but the band understand that you can only channel your inner Fudgetunnel for so long, and in rising to the challenge of reinvention they’ve somehow become one of the most essential bands in the country.