We review the new album from Colder Suns – Ex-Display
Colder Suns album Ex-Display despite looking like it’s going to be a dark and brooding album to start, actually subverts expectations straight out the gate. Full of several minute long behemoths, the album is given plenty of time to breath and is much more of an odyssey than it may first appear.
Chemicals is immediately an uplifting track that’s got soaring guitars, joy filled vocals, fast pounding drums, and some electro elements folded in together. As far as the genre goes, it’s a classic alt rock banger that’s pleasing to the ears and leans hard into that to say the least.
I.A.N follows on this trend, continuing with the blistering rock feel that’s once again bringing in new genres. This time funk and old school rock’n’roll are on the metaphorical chopping block. With a jumping and groovy bass guitar, it sets itself apart straight away with this style. This is topped off by a stylish guitar solo midway through that would mark the end for most songs, but here it instead gives way to what feels like a different song entirely.
Next up is the shortest track on the album, Waiting For Red, and it still clocks in at 3 minutes. There’s a definite strung down feel to this one, utilising a strong bass, twangy guitar plucks and a rhythm that descends a chord with excellent grace. It continues that mixture of alt rock with a taste of funk here, showing exactly how to cherry pick a genre trapping and slot it into something wholly different with a graceful execution.
Creepers is where Ex-Display starts to show its cracks just a little. Showcasing Colder Suns’ excellent guitar work, as does every track on the album. But it’s the start of a slow realisation that every track on the album is going to be a similar vibe. Whilst each track is a great individual showcase of fantastic guitar chords and imaginative riffs and solos, it’s hard to carry an album on just that. Despite this, Creepers uses a sampled piece of audio from Night of the Living Dead to great effect to sell its feel.
Mountains of Size does once again continue this trend of each track setting itself apart from the others, whilst sticking with the same theming of the album overall. This time there’s a much more subtle feeling to it, with acoustics incorporated in to great effect. Along with this, Mountains of Size is a much more anthem styled track and one that is much more introspective in its delivery. It’s the gentle feel of it that makes it a rockers lullaby.
Seeds cranks the tempo right back up and beyond anything previously heard on the album. It just shifts it into top gear and brings a fast tempo that shifts subtly during the chorus into a slower pace. This seesaw approach gives a great rhythm to the track, shifting from blistering to slow in such a subtle way that it’s actually quite hard to catch the exact moment the shift happens. There’s even a subtle breakdown where the track slows to nothing but a pounding drum beat and the caramel smooth bass. This then builds back up slowly into the fast paced beat that opened the track.
Spent is the longest track on the entire album, clocking in at a whopping six-minute runtime. It uses this to great effect though, building up from a gentle ballad in waves of intensity, dropping back down in a similar fashion to how Seeds functioned. It’s a long progressive track, but one that’s well worth the payoff at the end. Pushing out some of the most intense and well paced guitar moments on the entire album, building the anticipation beautifully throughout its runtime.
Come Back is the next track, and moves back into a more upbeat and charming feel, picking up perfectly where Spent left off with it’s dark atmosphere. It’s a much more ballad feeling track despite the fast pace. The closing half gives way to some of the most uplifting moments on the entire album, one that truly lifts up the mood beautifully. It’s probably the closest we get to a love song on the album, and one that’s subtle enough to not fall into the overdone category.
Fight For The Skies is where the fatigue of the album feels like it sets in properly. It finally completes the trend of the album feeling a little bloated in its execution, using a similar alt rock formula through every song. It really does try to carry every song on the back of admittedly excellent guitar, bass, vocals, and drums, but never strays from this formula. In a vacuum, Fight For The Skies is once again an excellent fast paced rocker, but there’s very little to do to describe it in a way that hasn’t been done for other tracks on the album.
Janus is the penultimate track of the album, and it couldn’t come a moment soon. It’s a track that brings in some of the electro elements teased towards the beginning of the album, and builds off a beautiful bass that’s continued for the entire song. If it had come a track earlier, it would’ve really been much more appreciated, as it differentiates itself heftily and acts as a decent palate cleanser compared to the prior tracks. Despite saying this, the mileage of each and every listener will vary, so this case may be different for everyone.
Closing out the album is The Pendulum. And it’s a track that’s deserving of its place, bringing a grandiose feeling that hits slightly harder than other tracks on the album. Despite this, it’s the same affair of strong all-around showing, with intricately put-together riffs, chords, bass lines, and solos galore.
Ex-Display is a strong showing from Colder Suns, one that’s fantastic in execution, but can come off as a little bloated overall. With a 51 minute runtime, it can become easy to tune out at times, and could’ve been trimmed here and there. Despite this, its messages about love, and loss, can ring brutally true in places. There’s not a single track on here that’s bad, but there’s a definite feeling of rock overdose by the end, and it’s a real shame to say that. If listened to over multiple sessions, Ex-Display may be much easier to digest.