Mega Colossus

I cannot help myself. At the beginning of every year, there’s always an album I hear and say “GUYS! We already have an album of the year contender! Really, I swear!” It’s dumb. That’s not to say any of those albums haven’t merited the attention I’ve given them, but saying something will stand as the best of the best of an entire year in January is like predicting your newborn child will be a Harvard graduate someday before you’ve even had a chance to name them. Chances are just as good you’ll be begging them to move out of your basement and get a job 30 years later. And yet…

Sometimes an album is a slow burn, taking some time and considered effort to truly appreciate. Others come right out the gate and demand your attention through sheer exuberance and force of will. Showdown from North Carolina’s Mega Colossus is very much the latter. Giving this album a first listen is like opening a door and being greeted by a year-old golden retriever – pure, raw energy and smiles abound, whose only intention is OH MY GOD HI HELLO LOOK AT THIS BALL DO YOU WANNA PLAY HOLY CRAP LETS GO FOR A WALK NO LETS GO RUN IN THE WOODS DO YOU LIKE CHEESE ITS MY FAVORITE LETS BE BEST FRIENDS.

From the jump its an exercise in having a good goddamn time and shredding faces with epic, vibrant riffs and fantastic, everything-you-got vocals, with opener “Fortune and Glory” rampaging ahead with the same infectious energy of Tower Hill‘s Deathstalker or Maule‘s self-titled debut, and pairing it with early Rainbow‘s legendary knack for earworm melodies and epic song structures. It’s a friggin’ RIDE, with killer guitar leads giving you every reason to air guitar along like an absolute lunatic, especially when you get to the song’s face-melting solo and bridge that would probably make Glenn Tipton himself stand back in admiration. If this track doesn’t get you instantly hooked, I dunno man. Life doesn’t have to be so hard, ya know?

And you’ll be glad for getting so attached so quickly, because Showdown rewards you with track after track of incredibly high-quality work. “Outrun Infinity” keeps the momentum going all the way forward, ripping out another banger solo right out the gate, and continuing their trend of high energy riffing and enthusiastic vocals en route to another track built to put a dumb smiles on your face. That’s all the band wants to do! Shred killer riffs and make you happy. To that end, the band make no bones about the fact that they are not going to shy away from massive hooks, and why the hell should they given how brilliant they are at writing them? Where their last album Riptide took a decidedly more aggressive approach (while still being incredibly fun), Showdown greets the listener with noticeably warmer, happy-go-lucky tones (hence, the Golden Retriever reference), and the hooks here match the vibes – epic, memorable and immensely repeatable. The earworm refrain of “Grab the Sun” won’t leave your head anytime soon, and the final 2 and a half minutes is pretty much serotonin in audio form, layered with the kind of heroic guitar melodies that belong at the end of every sports film when the team of overmatched misfit scrappers steal victory from the evil antagonists. I practically feel like I’m being carried away on the shoulders of my overjoyed teammates. It rules.

Mega Colossus also bucks recent NWOTHM trends by embracing a beautifully robust, fully modern production on Showdown, and we should all be thankful for it. The guitar work laid out by guitarists Bill Fischer and Chris Millard is too good to get lost in a muddled production job just for the sake of “aesthetic choice,” and letting drummer Doza Mendoza’s mighty kick pulse true through the speakers accentuates every note perfectly. This is not an album you’ll grow weary listening to, rather you’ll grow more and more emboldened to jump atop your couch or work desk with every track and sing along with unabashed gusto. The multi-vocal attack on the album’s title track, led by lead singer Sean Buchanan’s impressively crisp, expressive chops will carry you to the highest of highs, without a single missed note or melody to be found. In fact, everything about this album seems to be done mindfully and with purpose – they may not necessarily be pushing their own boundaries with Showdown or even taking your through a complex musical journey here (Aside from the relatively more tame “Wicked Road,” there’s pretty much one vibe here and it’s all fast and fun all the time), but nor are the band overstaying their welcome to risk becoming stale, either. At 6 songs, this certainly borders on “is this an EP?” territory, but the 37+ minute run time packs just the right amount of punch to leave you feeling fully engaged and satisfied by the time it’s finished.

The fact of the matter is, Mega Colossus already have a really damn good catalog of releases under their belt. Anyone who’s followed this act from all the way back to 2006’s .​.​.​and the Rift of the Pandimensional Under​-​God (back when they were known as just just regular, run-of-the-mill Colossus), up to 2021’s Riptime will already know the level of quality this band has shown capable of. Unfortunately, where the music has always been fantastic, the band has struggled to maintain a consistent identity in nearly every other facet of this project. Yeah, I know, the music should be all that matters at the end of the day, but a quick glance back and you see seven releases, all boasting vastly different band logos, all with stylistically very different album art. Naysay all you want, I guarantee that’s gone a long way to keeping this band as under-the-radar as they’ve remained for the last 17 years, which is simply criminal given the brilliant musicianship and songwriting the band have once again displayed on Showdown. Marketing matters! I only mention this because I’m hoping their new home with Cruz del Sur Music (the unquestioned standard-bearers for modern Heavy Metal output) will help alleviate these cosmetic issues, and help finally propel Mega Colossus to the level of recognition and notoriety they absolutely deserve. Do your part and get your hands on this doozy ASAP.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
February 7th, 2024


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