Deciding how I even stand with The Colossal Tragedy, the latest album from Singapore death metal rockers Bhelliom, has been a staggering task indeed. This is a band that brings some serious technical riffage to the table, and on one hand, they do it exceptionally well. On the other hand, the songwriting alternates between building up my hopes and smashing them with a sledgehammer, and while it’s not without some great melodies and semi-catchy hooks, I think I would rather dress up in steaks and go swimming with sharks than listen to this album one more time.
The Colossal Tragedy is a strange phantasmagoria, really. Right off the bat, anyone can clearly see that Bhelliom has talent. “Skeletons Of Destiny”, the instrumental opener, successfully sets the stage and showcases the melodic chops that make up the majority of the album’s high points. It’s catchy, beautiful, and practically plays the air guitar for you. They don’t keep you waiting for the nightmare that comprises the other half of the album, however. When the ironically-titled “The Alternative Vision” kicks in, the dissonant chords manage to annoy much more effectively than I imagine their composers would have intended. I wasn’t aware that the diminished fifth was mortal, but these guys found a way to kill it.
This dichotomy is pretty much the staple of the entire album, and I found this to be much to my disappointment. Bhelliom certainly possesses the ability to write good songs, and tracks like the possibly misspelled “All The King’s Pawn” and “Swallow The Splinters” are excellent examples of super-melodic thrash married to math-laden polyrhythms. Unfortunately, there is also an overwhelming amount of awkwardly discordant riffs that came out sounding like watered-down cacophony.
I never really complain about album art, but it appears that these guys have made themselves somewhat of an easy target. The overall picture is a relatively cool mess on a red and rust-colored background, complete with diabolical-looking structures that could be emulations of ribs. This would have been totally passable as the album cover of a death metal release. Dead-center in the picture, however, is what appears to be the upper half of a little dude, and if you zoom in, I’m pretty sure you can see that the fucker is wearing sunglasses. I could be completely mistaken, and believe me, I hope I am, but I’m almost convinced that’s what it is, enough so that I was willing to mention it here. I don’t even think I have to rip into that to make my point – it pretty much criticizes itself.
I will say that the production quality is pretty good, and there’s really nothing I can say to criticize the drummer or the singer. The drums share the same technical flare that the guitars exhibit, but they lack the moments that welcome strong ire. The vocals are the standard death metal violence growls that you would hope for, and while not exceptional, they are more than suitable. It really saddens me that I couldn’t say as much about the guitars, mostly because I have never seen such a strong polarity of good and bad on the same record. Even thinking of how good this album could have been pisses me off. In the end, I can definitely appreciate what Bhelliom was trying to do with The Colossal Tragedy, but compared to what was possible, they managed to produce exactly that – a colossal fucking tragedy.
01. Skeletons Of Destiny
02. The Alternate Vision
03. Solace And Fear
04. Another Sin
05. All The King’s Pawn
06. At One Fell Swoop
07. Swallow The Splinters
08. Layer By Layer