AMN Reviews: Colossloth – Heathen Needles (2017; Cold Spring Records)

This is the second recording from Colossloth, who is as far as I can tell, an Englishman. And I will frankly admit that it is hard to believe this variety of sounds, noises, and harsh freaked-out melodies come from a single individual. Heathen Needles, released earlier this month, covers an impressive amount of ground. From dirty synths to distorted drones, speaking and screaming voices, feedback, acoustic piano and guitar, backward masking, noise walls, and undulating rhythms. Needless to say, this is not pleasant music in the normal sense of that phrase. Instead, Colossloth generates a veritable hellscape of aggressively-manipulated sounds.

The title track, as an example, begins with a grungy synth rhythm, interspersed with video-game fallout effects that melt away into walled noise. These elements are joined by IDM-styled keyboard chording, the echoing of which survives until the end of the piece. Compare that with the next offering, Lain Inert, which features slowly rolling synths with decimated samples, power chords from an electric guitar, and guttural voices. We Had a Pact is comprised of several layers of drones, walls, and noises, growling, post-industrial rhythms, and a deceptively charming melody made from the aforementioned backward masking. There Will Be Islands begins with distorted noise walls before adding a nearly ambient synth rhythm, then indecipherable spoken word elements.

Heathen Needles is fresh and surprisingly non-repetitive. Colossloth processes a number of familiar styles and techniques in a fashion that is unusual and unconventional. The result is a thoroughly twisted and enjoyable album.