For seven years, Raleigh's Colossus has wobbled along a fine line, making intentionally humorous music that teetered at the brink of novelty. Mostly, the band's instrumental chops have been enough to steady its footing. Colossus' last outing, 2009's Drunk on Blood EP, offered five songs that again tested that path, the quintet galloping across five songs about mythical beasts and battles, decorated with triple-guitar leads and anchored by Sean Buchanan, who milked every ounce of melodrama possible from NWOBHM vocal melisma.
Despite its verbose title, Colossus' latest, and the Sepulcher of the Mirror Warlocks, finds the dudes at their sturdiest yet. While the topical inspirations—Dune, transdimensional love affairs, pulp fantasy—reside within the band's ludicrous wheelhouse, they're never played as parody. The sound is still defined by its '80s metal indulgences, florid guitar work, warhorse drumming and melodramatic vocal melody, but the excess never feels unwarranted. Closer "Swords Against Death" is exactly the fantastic anthem the title promises; in its unmitigated war-metal bombast, "Jihad Jihad" expertly cops a cue from Slayer's immortal "Raining Blood" riff. For this third release, Colossus retains every bit of the giddy charm that earned the band its stature. This time, though, they manage to offer definitive proof that this is no novel flight of fancy.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Loud, live or Latin."