When: Sat., Jan. 21, 9 p.m. 2017
After more than a decade, the local trad-metal titans of Colossus were ready for a shake-up. The band's fourth record, HyperGlaive, introduces a new name for the ensemble, and with it, the broadest departure from the Iron Maiden-meets-Thin Lizzy template that formed the band's foundations. No longer merely Colossus, the band is now Mega Colossus. Announced in November and motivated, at least partially, to avoid confusion with other Colossuses, the name change reflects the band's joyful embrace of heavy metal grandiosity.
At first blush, HyperGlaive has all the trappings of its predecessors. The triple-guitar histrionics, soaring melodies, and lyrical fixation on fantastic realms and epic battles remain. But as each release has moved further away from the throwback-slash-loving parody of the band's earliest work, HyperGlaive also nods to contemporary hard rockers like Red Fang and metal classics outside the New Wave of British Heavy Metal archetype.
"The Judge" merges agile fills and solos with a streamlined vocal melody that occasionally recalls Alkaline Trio's moody flirtations with the alt-rock mainstream. But as soon as the band threatens to settle into a melodic-rock comfort zone, singer Sean Buchanan unleashes a wail worthy of Bruce Dickinson, as his fleet of guitarists—Bill Fischer, Nicky Nixon, and Stephen Cline—fills the bridge with dive bombs and finger taps.
The allegorical anthem "Behold the Worm" injects some surging Metallica riffs and proggy dynamics into a fiery chorus. Buchanan sings the title with a subtle growl, as he delivers the threat of the line that follows: "Beast with human face/Will rule the human race."
Still, Mega Colossus somehow feels restrained. Rather than revel in excess, the freewheeling solos of years past have been reined in. More often, the Mega Colossus guitarists put their instrumental heroics toward melodic counterpoint and powerful dynamic transitions. Buchanan's vocals, too, are more measured. Rather than push a screaming falsetto, he shows more textural range on HyperGlaive, giving the band a more nuanced and versatile lead.
Even as HyperGlaive feels like the most mature album in the band's catalog, it loses none of the unpretentious joy that has made the group a reliable draw in the Triangle and beyond. Its growth only proves its ambitions lie beyond retro-metal nostalgia trips, and HyperGlaive makes a strong case that the band has the chops and songwriting instincts to realize those aims.
Chapel Hill's excellent heavy psych outfit Solar Halos and Raleigh's riff-driven Lightning Born (with Mega Colossus drummer Doza Hawes) open the show. —Bryan C. Reed