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"Colonel Blood"

Fighting With Wire – Colonel Blood
03 October 2012, 08:57 Written by Chris Tapley

Colonel Blood has been a long time coming. Following the release of their stellar debut Man Vs Monster in 2008, Derry lads Fighting With Wire caught the attention of Atlantic Records. They were whisked stateside for a showcase, signed up and planted in a Tennessee studio with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters),completing the album before the year was out. At the time it seemed like the trio’s melodic brand of post-hardcore could be about to strike a much bigger chord, especially with the new-found backing of a major label. Then nothing happened, for close to four years. Release of the album was continually shelved until ties were finally severed early this year, and the band announced that it would be distributed as a free download. Thankfully Xtra Mile stepped up to reward it with the proper release it warrants.

All of this considered, it would be great if I could now go on to say that it’s a revelation; the kind of indelible mixture of hardcore ethos and pop hooks you always wanted your own under-appreciated British post-hardcore band of choice to have gone on and produced to mass acclaim. This isn’t quite the rock-pop behemoth that I had hoped for though; in parts it sounds huge, but it’s also dragged down with a nagging feeling that something is missing. What? Well, there’s a bit too much sheen; it often sounds like the kind of radio-ready rock that a shift to a major might have you fearing, and which just doesn’t quite suit a band who have always excelled themselves live. Whilst Man Vs Monster threw nods to the likes of Hot Water Music or Rival Schools, this record sounds entirely indebted to Foo Fighters, and although there are certainly flashes of that more hard-edged spirit in there, it tends to be obfuscated by production.

The breakdown on ‘Don’t Wanna Go Home’ or the anguished howl which closes out ‘Blackout’ are perfect examples of how they are more than capable of holding their own with the metal crowd. The elastic sass of ‘Graduate’ on the other hand is more in line with the freewheeling eclecticism of Jetplane Landing, as it flicks between a funk-indebted groove and rasping guitar solo with ease. The shadow of Cahir O’Doherty’s other band actually looms quite large here, but mainly as association underlines the lack of imagination shown on this album. Tracks like ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ and the title track are particularly guilty of treading water with tired formulaic progressions.

Colonel Blood pops and surges in all the right places and I don’t doubt it’ll still sound pretty great live, but it can’t hit a good enough run of songs to feel vital, instead dipping in and out of filler across its running time – so much that all of the good stuff just simmers in the background without ever really boiling over. It still does just enough to convince that there is still a potentially great album in this band, so I’m going to go with the temptation to chalk this one up to creative compromise or commercial pressures, and just hope that they come back from this whole fiasco stronger than ever.

Listen to Colonel Blood

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