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Colonist - 2017 - "Songs of the Machine"

(57:59; Colonist)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. Metropolis 7:01
2. Songs of the Machine 6:44
3. Seventh Wave 6:51
4. Helios (I Am the Sun) 7:34
5. Oblivion 6:20
6. Englassed 7:12
7. Crown of the Drowned King 6:55
8. Blacklight Domain 9:22


Emil Kaukonen - vocals
Jasper Karhunen - guitars, vocals
Emil Lindqvist - guitars
Jonas Holmstrom - bass
Viktor Finnas - drums, percussion 

Prolusion. Finnish band Colonist appears to have started out sometime around 2013, and they released their debut album "Mechanical" a year later. Four years down the line the band returned with their second album "Songs of the Machine", which is their most recent production to date. At the current stage the band appears to be on hiatus.

Analysis. Colonist marketed themselves as a progressive metal band, but whether or not they will be accepted as such by all and sundry comes across as a bit of an open question for me. For my sake I'll say that they play around with the song structure a bit, and they pull off some nice details in the arrangement department too, but ultimately I'd say that they are a metal band first and foremost. Fairly long sounds with a big sound is the specialty of Colonist. They have a fine vocalist with a rich and melodic sound, and a singer that gets his points across in a fairly calm and controlled manner at that, despite having a voice that is also powerful. His more melodic touch is a nice contrast to the harder and equally big sounding guitar riffs that dominate the compositions, resulting in soundscapes that sound big, powerful and vibrant. Often with a slightly dirty undercurrent from the guitar sound that does add some nerve and tension to the proceedings. The songs will typically fluctuate between a few different variations of heavy metal, with chugging and fluctuating patterns with and without a harmony overlay that more often than not comes with nan epic feel. A few instances with a more intense and chaotic orientation do appear, while the most interesting sequences are the ones with a more worked out groove-oriented display of the kind that I more or less humorously describe in my notes as the band borrowing from the Tool-box. That a good handful of the compositions also makes use of gentler, light toned sections with a clean guitar sound and a more delicate arrangement also expands the palette taken in use here, with this latter aspect arguably being the most directly progressive of note here. Whether Colonist are to be defined within a metal or a progressive metal context I do feel that the material here becomes a bit too one-dimensional over an album's length of material. This is more a case of songs being too similar and making use of too many similar elements while not adding anything else substantial to the landscapes explored, and with too similar ideas explored for too many tracks in a row maintaining nerve and tension does become increasingly difficult. So for me at least the interest in the songs started to fade after a certain point here, as nothing really new was brought to the table, and there just wasn't enough subtle features or more intriguing contrasts to focus on for my specific taste in music.

Conclusion. For my sake I would describe Colonist as they come across on this album as an epic sounding metal band with big soundscapes, making good use of melody within that framework, and that they have some progressive metal impulses incorporated into their big and majestic constructions. While not a production I'd recommend to any progressive metal fans as such, those with a specific interest in a more grandiose variety of heavy metal with a bit of progressive intent should find some interesting compositions to enjoy on this album.

Progmessor: February 2023
The Rating Room

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