Metal and melody. Some may view them as opposing forces. Colony Collapse bridges them together in perfect harmony. You can hear what we mean for yourself on the band’s recently released new single “The Love That Remains,” via Theoria Records, a song that clearly stands apart from the rest of modern metal. The band’s intent is to be comfortable putting on display all the rough edges that other groups may try to mask, while also redefining what you expect from driving, full-throttle death metal. To more seriously pursue a career as a metal band, the band members sacrificed their previous lives to relocate together to Denver, Colorado where they began to form an audience.
“The Love That Remains” has an interesting backstory, a song whose theme revolves around the Portuguese word saudade. Unique to the Portuguese language, saudade describes a certain longing for a previous happiness, or even one that never completed existed. It’s a type of melancholic nostalgia that we can all relate to. For the song, the band borrowed author Manuel de Melo’s unique definition of saudade, with the author describing it as “a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy.”
With metal fans beginning to take some serious notice of Colony Collapse, the time was right to hook up with the band for a special session of Stereo Six. Read on and discover the musical diversity which spawned this talented, innovative new band.
“So many albums shaped us as musicians, from the young days that saw me listening to Deep Purple’s Machine Head while the band’s co-founder Jaxon Stunden was spinning Toto records. Those albums sounded huge; we wanted to write hooks just as big and unleash them. But as we started our deep dive into metal and began moving towards the band we are today, I guess we have to start at the beginning.”
1. Protest The Hero – Fortress (2008, Vagrant Records)
“Protest the Hero was my first metal concert. My friend Marshall and I begged to tag along with his older brother and tried our best to fit in while standing in line. I remember hearing the double bass drum bleeding through the walls to the outside and trying to decide whether I should cross my arms and act natural or start bobbing my head before I even got into the venue. I went with the head bob, and never looked back.
“This album taught me how to structure a song around organized chaos. Much of the music I grew up on followed a traditional verse, chorus, bridge format. As I learned later, sometimes simple is better – a song is not necessarily more interesting just because it’s chalk full of parts. But when I go back and listen to Fortress, I still find myself tapping the rhythms out on any surface I can find, the same way I would on school buses as I tried to figure out what the hell these rhythms were ten years ago. I found it exciting. I thought Rody Walker jumped around octaves and from cleans to screams like there wasn’t a rule book. And I loved how Moe Carlson’s drums never quite did what I expected them to. They didn’t follow every note with the kick drum, the fills didn’t sound over-edited as though they came from a textbook, he gave the songs a lot of life, and overall the album came across like a band that was doing metal because they felt like it, not because they had to.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a ton of Protest influence obvious on the surface of what Colony Collapse has become, but when I look back through the road to how we got here I know how important their discography was to us. In fact, it was at a Protest the Hero show that Jaxon and I first heard the next band on this list.”
2. The Contortionist – Clairvoyant (2017, eOne Music, Good Fight Music)
“Language was a masterpiece. I’ll start out by saying that. I used ‘Ebb and Flow’ for a music project in college because it’s truly that damn impressive. I think everyone in the scene is proud to be represented by a band this in touch with their own sound; it reflects well on what metal has the potential to be in a genre without much restriction. So when the first single from Clairvoyant was released, the excitement was palpable within the band. If there was one thing I knew, it’s that they weren’t going to repeat themselves, but I had no idea what the record would sound like.
“I believe the first single was ‘Reimagined.’ It wasted no time, the pulsating eighth notes providing a simple but powerful groove on the bass. It’s direct. Lyrically, it’s simple and honest. I think it threw a lot of people for a loop, but in a way, the most progressive thing the band could’ve done at the time was reel things back and convey their atmospheres in a more concise format. Their trademarks riffs, key changes and moments of technicality are still present on the record. Drummer Joey Baca is a master of adding colour to parts without overcomplicating. The album at large is a lesson in restraint. The song foundations are the focus. They have one of the strongest visions of any project out there. Standouts: ‘Godspeed,’ ‘Absolve,’ ‘Return To Earth.’”
3. Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps (2017, Dead Oceans)
“This album caught me slipping, honestly. When I first heard the song ‘Funeral,’ I was a little dumbfounded at how much it struck a nerve. In her honesty and straightforward wordplay, Phoebe paints a picture from her own experiences but leaves just enough room for interpretation that a listener can place themselves within her world. It forever changed the way I want to write lyrics, and to be honest I don’t think the effect has completely set in any material set to come out soon.
“There are moments on our forthcoming EP, particularly with the songs that are older, where I think I missed the mark on what I was trying to say in favour of making something sound more ‘poetic.’ It doesn’t mean those lines are bad, necessarily, but as I found myself wrapped up in a record as simple yet gripping as Stranger in the Alps, I realized how much meaning can get lost in the empty spaces between my words. If you try too hard to cram in syllables and phrases that don’t serve the meaning of the song, you might find yourself losing track of what you were trying to say.
“I touched on this a bit in the previous section, similarly admiring the work Michael Lassard of the Contortionist did in his lyrics on Clairvoyant. It’s a part of my songwriting that I am still working to improve. I also love the delivery of Phoebe’s vocals on this album. There’s a swing-like loose feel to her cadences that gives the songs a subtle movement beyond the beat of the guitar and percussion. I would also highly recommend her follow-up album Punisher, where she expanded well upon the sound established on this record with new instrumental elements and eclecticism.”
4. Architects – Lost Forever // Lost Together (2014, Epitaph Records)
“I’m cheating here a little, because really I was inspired by Architects from Hollow Crown through Daybreaker, and it all sort of culminated with the release of LF//LT. It’s pretty hard to overstate how much this band meant to us as a young group (yes, Colony Collapse the name is derived from a track on this album). There was a show, I think it was Ghost Inside and Every Time I Die headlining, and Architects was the opener. This was just before the band had really made the headway they deserved in America. But it was sold out. Jaxon and I tweeted at them asking to put us on guest list. It was a long shot, but maybe they could sense the genuine nature of our plea through the phone, because they put both our names at the door.
“That show was magic. I remember the lights came up during the long holdout before the final breakdown of ‘These Colours Don’t Run,’ people started walking to the bar and merch. It was just me and Jaxon swinging at each other in the pit when that last low string hit. It’s the type of thing you feel from your head to your toes. The way they utilized drop tuning (on six strings no less) felt somewhat revolutionary. The beautiful use of orchestral strings, real live performances, was exceptional. It was cohesive, moody and bold. The defining album of that year.”
5. Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns (2010, Warner Bros. Records)
“Possibly the best Linkin Park album. I didn’t know how to process it when it came out, maybe no one did. Ahead of its time in its use of synth and melody, this album no doubt inspired us towards using as much synth and piano as we do. The hooks soared and the lyrics resonated. If I could use one word to describe this album, it would be textured. You can feel the peaks and the valleys, the sound waves painting a topography across your ceiling. As much as Hybrid Theory was gospel as a kid, I’ve come back to A Thousand Suns and Living Things a lot as an adult.
“The largest part of this record’s influence on us would be the electronic elements. Albums like Fallujah’s Dreamless taught us that trance-like synths could be combined with metal, but A Thousand Suns was the record that truly challenges experimentation. The day we went on down to the music store and bought an analog synthesizer, I had this album in my mind. I still listen intently when it comes on shuffle.”
6. Insult To Injury – Dead Weight (2013, Fort Charter Records)
“Alright, here’s a fun one. Insult to Injury was a band from our hometown in Pittsburgh. They, along with another group Bury Thy Kingdom, were holding it down when we were coming up as youngsters and consuming every breakdown we could find. Jaxon went to school with Marc Liscio (bass) and Zak Lees (drums). They taught us that bands on the local level can make great music, it was motivating for us to see people around town come together to create something this good.
“The Dead Weight EP holds up to this day in both production quality and groove. At the time, I was starting to get into more metalcore (shoutout to the self-titled Of Mice and Men record and The Flood, absolutely seminal) but I’d never heard an album that was as driven solely by the rhythm and vocals until this one. It was everything I ever wanted to hear and it made my stomach do somersaults. Little sprinkles of technicality and lead work keep interesting a record that overall was there to make you nod your head, sometimes aggressively and sometimes with a smile. It’s a fine line with djent between monotony and balance.
“Another short EP which walks this line perfectly is Perfect War Forever by Glass Cloud, an album that overall is probably a better example for why we as a band transitioned to extended range guitars. But I’m giving Dead Weight the nod for the local connection and how wet behind the ears I was when I heard it. Check this album out if you, like me, enjoy time traveling to different scene eras. Because this one was ahead of its time for 2013.”
Make them Suffer – World’s Apart (their best album, sorry haters)
Fit For an Autopsy – The Great Collapse
The Aces – Where My Heart Felt Volcanic
Veil of Maya – Matriarch
Counterparts – The Difference Between Hell and Home
The Acacia Strain – Slow Decay