On Anxiety’s Kiss, punk veterans Coliseum are back with a heavy, dark, melodic new album. The band’s maturity and experience are evident here even to someone who, like this reviewer, was woefully ignorant of their music until now. If you, like me, have somehow stayed in the dark about Coliseum this long, this album is a fine entry point. Unfortunately, my outsider status means I can’t comment on how long-time fans might find this release. It's hard for me to imagine that they would be displeased.
Anxiety’s Kiss is a taut, no-filler kind of album. Every song makes a solid impression. The sound is a blend of post-hardcore with post-punk, and while the ratio of each varies from track to track, there’s a nice consistency in how the album explores the space between these two genres.
The first four tracks lean more to the Fugazi-esque side, with lots of powerful riffs, bouncy bass, and earnest shouting. “Wrong Goodbye” might be the best of this bunch. Lean and super hooky, it’s a bass showcase with restrained guitar and arrestingly distorted vocals.
At tracks five and six, the album takes an abrupt turn for the gothic. “Dark Light of Seduction,” with its lurching, downbeat tempo and dark, jarring guitars, is redolent of The Banshees and Disintegration-era Cure. “Sharp Fangs, Pale Flesh” riffs shamelessly on vampire imagery, it’s sparse guitars and quavering vocals invoking classic deathrock acts like Christian Death and Kommunity FK. It’s a sexy bloodsucker anthem on the level of Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting” and I can easily imagine all the spooky black-clad kids getting down to it in the club.
I have to pause here and say that it’s heartwarming to hear a punk band give such an intelligent and heartfelt tribute to goth, a genre often unjustly scorned by punks as being melodramatic and silly.
At track seven, the album gets even more interesting. “Come Down” marks a return to post-hardcore flavor in terms of its heartily shouted and manfully declaimed vocals, but the dark guitar riff and the tom-heavy drumbeat are pure post-punk. “Sunlight in a Snowstorm” is similar, featuring Joy Division-style shuffling beat and jangling guitar on the verse, before returning to more epic and manly punk riffs on the chorus and bridge. “Driver At Dusk” is just plain weird, an eerie soundscape of guitar harmonics and feedback with ominous, mumbled vocals and no beat. “Escape Yr Skull” is bright and fuzzy, a mellow, upbeat closer that nicely resolves the album.
This is an exceptionally strong release by an unusually capable and creative band at their remarkable best.
9.0 / 10
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