Awesome Color

Massa Hypnos

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Awesome Color’s third album, Massa Hypnos, seemingly finds the group in a sort of midlife crisis mode. While they could (should?) have been content to keep cranking out album after album of thick and overloaded guitar rock, instead they decided to take their foot off the pedal and mix in a few quieter, less ferocious tracks. It’s a move that would have worked better if their usual sound wasn’t so impressive; anything else comes off underwhelming. "Flying," for example, has a nice vocal line and melodic bass from Michael Troutman, but without the raging guitars, it’s not fully baked. "Zombie," too, has a thin and undercooked sound that holds the song in check and leaves the listener wondering what the band was thinking. Fortunately, the bulk of the album is made up of songs that fall into the category of reliably loud and exciting, with the restrained tracks being a mild, only slightly disappointing, diversion. Most of the songs retain the overdriven fury and hypnotic drive of the group's previous output; "Transparent" kicks the album off in blazing fashion with Derek Stanton tearing off riffs and solos in typical fashion, while Allison Busch pounds as impressively as ever. Songs like "IOU" and the mesmerizing "Oaxaca" would have been highlights on either of the first two albums, while "Slaughterhouse" reclaims the hard-rockin’ blues from generations of bad bar bands and kicks it firmly in the ass. When they stick to familiar ground like this, they are as impressive as any hard rock band around. It may not be fair to ask Awesome Color to keep repeating the same record over and over but it is fair to ask them to stay intense and ferocious, since that's what made the trio awesome in the first place. Massa Hypnos works out to being 75 percent awesome, which is a very respectable result.

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