Twelve years into their career, Louisville's Coliseum have evolved from hardcore/d-beat heroes into a streamlined, heavy rock machine with a muscular, compact sound. The increasing melodicism and more straightforward structures of their later albums is further explored on Anxiety's Kiss, their fifth LP overall and second for Deathwish Inc. The rotating lineup of the band's early years has solidified into the power trio of founding singer/guitarist Ryan Patterson, bassist Kayhan Vaziri, and drummer Carter Wilson, the same crew who delivered their 2013 breakthrough LP Sister Faith. Also back is producer J. Robbins (Jawbox), whose confident hand behind the board helps solidify these ten tracks, which embrace classic punk ethos, hardcore fury, and post-punk sophistication. Album-opener "We Are the Water" sets the bar high with its pulsing, synth-aided thump, meaty bassline, and melodic guitar hooks. After a magnetic, minute-long build-up, Patterson fires his opening shot, growling "balance is lost to avarice, it's all wealth versus riches" in a neatly controlled fury that sets the tone for his socio-political stumping. The thrashing "Course Correction" deals with class division, and the jagged and provocative "Wrong/Goodbye" takes on police brutality, but there are also more personal, introspective tracks to balance their social awareness. "Sunlight in a Snowstorm" is a late album standout set in a wintery New York City that boasts hooky, post-punk riffs and a rich, harmonic chorus. It's followed by the moody, textural "Driver at Dusk," in which Patterson narrates over a slow, brooding backdrop of bass, baritone guitar, and rumbling feedback. Building on the strong foundation of their last album, Anxiety's Kiss adds even more sonic and emotional variety to Coliseum's sound, and is easily their most interesting album to date.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger