– Spanish version available here –
COLOSSO is one of those names that unfortunately stays under the radar for most metalheads. Since 2012 they have been producing a unique form of progressive death metal, experimenting with ambient, dissonances and electronic music. After going back to a one man band with Rebirth, Max Tomé’s child has signed with Trascending Obscurity Records to release Apocalypse. An EP with four different vocalists (including himself) taking different approaches to death metal. We spoke with him to discuss not only their newest output, but the entire discography and how he has managed to keep the band on its feet after all this time.
[Editor’s note: This interview was conducted before the COVID lockdown but delayed for technical reasons. But look on the bright side, you won’t find stupid questions like «how ya doin’ at home?»].
Subterráneo Webzine: When COLOSSO was founded back in 2011 it was as a one man band, even releasing your debut album, Abrasive peace, under those terms (except for the drums). Why start a one man band? Didn’t you find anyone who had similar musical ideas?
Colosso: Well, back in 2011 all I was thinking was to record a death metal album that could feature all my ideas and main musical influences. I wasn’t thinking of it as a band. I just wanted to record an album that I would like and could call mine, because I hadn’t written an album in my 15 years of musical endeavours. After I had the record done, I started looking for musicians locally who could perform it…
Subterráneo Webzine: What can you tell us about Abrasive peace? In my opinion, it’s a relentless album, it shows the same level of aggression from the beginning to its ending. I’ve seen some similarities with early GOJIRA works (Terra Incognita, The End) or bands like ULCERATE, because of this dense and technical approach to death metal.
Colosso: I wouldn’t be honest with you if I didn’t tell you that Abrasive peace is still my favourite COLOSSO record to this point. It caused such an impact on my artistic and personal life… And it has this unrepeatable aura… I still listen to it from time to time.
Yes, those bands were a huge influence on Abrasive peace, as well as early DECAPITATED, SEPULTURA… And even PINK FLOYD!
Subterráneo Webzine: Then come two EPs, Thallium and Foregone semblance. On those works COLOSSO wasn’t a solo project anymore but a full band. What made you change your mind?
Colosso: I wanted to do better than in Abrasive peace. I wanted to explore new musical territories and passages. You can only do that with the right people by your side.
Subterráneo Webzine: I`d like to focus on Thallium. I feel that It showed a more progressive side of the band: the amount of instrumentals, the presence of a fretless bass on «Orthogonal path»… Do you actually feel that those EPs were a huge evolution of the band’s sound?
Colosso: I don’t really see it as an evolution, but rather exploring all possible sonorities in our hands. We wanted to explore new sounds, new instruments (hence the use of 8 string guitars on the Foregone semblances EP), new approaches to death metal, basically. Looking at it now, and although I really like what we did back then, I think somehow we explored a bit too much… But that’s what EPs are for, anyway!
Subterráneo Webzine: On Obnoxious you even delegate the vocal duties on André Macedo. Considering that usually vocals are one of the key points of a band’s identity, why did you decide to take such risk?
Colosso: Back then, I wasn’t into doing vocals anymore (I still kind of hate it, because I’m not good at it)… It was a controlled risk because André was a much better vocalist than I’ll ever be.
Subterráneo Webzine: Let’s keep on Obnoxious. If we retrospectively look back, this album seems like the end of an evolution. There was the brutality of your debut album, but it wasn’t as straight to the point. It featured some ambient and electronic passages (like in “Soaring waters” or “Seven space collisions”) to let the listener rest a little bit, and it was also more progressive, like the previous EPs. You feel that the album widened your sound?
Colosso: Yes, no doubt about that! The album was experimental but kept within boundaries. It was the right record after much experimenting and brought back the elements of the first album, as you said.
During the writing process, we had members pushing to the more progressive side and members pushing to the more death metal side. This ended up in a perfect balance of progressive death metal (in my very humble opinion), where we were able to unplease everyone – hence the title Obnoxious.
Subterráneo Webzine: A year later the band returned to it’s original shape, just you taking care of everything. What happened back then? Personal differences, did you wanted to take another path for the band…?
Colosso: I guess back then, the rest of the guys started focusing more and more on projects of their own… we ended up doing less rehearsals, less live shows, and less hanging out too. I started working on a new album (still showed them the song «Rebirth» in a demo phase), but none of the members were interested in COLOSSO anymore. They opted for a hiatus, which I opted against. Since COLOSSO is “my baby” I ended up by myself.
Subterráneo Webzine: The title of your latest full length album says it all: Rebirth. Seems that COLOSSO was far from dead. There’s a few things about Rebirth that caught my attention. Firsty, compared to the other full albums, this one seems too short, just 17 minutes of new music. Why so brief?
Colosso: I wanted to do a very small album, because currently everything is fast and disposable, and people don’t take enough time to listen to what you do. It was done with the idea of condensing everything into the smallest timeframe possible and listened in a start to finish non-stop mode.
Subterráneo Webzine: The production is rawer than in your previous releases, which makes the songs more violent, but at the same time the ambient parts also play a greater role together with your clean chorus. In fact this contrast is the main key of the album’s identity. What else can you tell us about this record?
Colosso: Yeah, unfortunately I ended up speeding the vocal tracking and mixing/mastering phases of Rebirth, which made me end up with something I’m not 100% happy with… Maybe one day I’ll redo those two parts and release them as a bonus track or something…
Lyric wise, Rebirth is about suicide and getting the inner force to avoid it. It’s a very dark and sad album both musically and lyrically, if you don’t mind me saying. And that’s why it’s hard for me to redo what I would like to do with it.
Subterráneo Webzine: Apocalypse has nothing to do with your previous releases. It’s as if you wanted to play four different styles of extreme metal and make them fit with every horsemen of the apocalypse. Besides “Death”, I barely find traces of any of your previous records. How did you come up with this concept?
Colosso: Let me please disagree with you on that. I mean, besides the track «Pestilence«, which definitely has a different approach, «War» is a track that could fit Abrasive peace, «Death» is a track that could fit Rebirth, and «Famine» could fit Obnoxious.
But answering to your question, I had the idea of doing this EP back in 2012, right after finishing Abrasive peace. I thought of the four tracks, one for each horseman. But it didn’t seem right to do it back then…
Subterráneo Webzine: This time, besides the guest vocalists who drove the songs into their own territory, you have hired Robin Stone and Alexandre Ribeiro to record drums and bass respectively, instead of recording everything on your own. Were you tired of this tasks or did you consider that they could do a better job?
Colosso: Yes, I absolutely knew they could do a much better job than I would. I wanted to record something with Alexandre since a long time ago, and this was the perfect record for him. He is such a dedicated and skillful player that I knew he would handle every track perfectly. Same thing with Robin (which was introduced to me by Transcending Obscurity). After I saw some of his videos, I just knew it!
Subterráneo Webzine: About your guest vocalists, all of them are from the Portuguese extreme metal scene, but why did you chose them specifically? Did they match with the songs you were composing?
Colosso: Well at the very beginning I only invited Guilherme Henriques (OAK), but since his schedule is so tight, I got the idea of one vocalist per track, which would represent each horseman much better. I then thought of Sérgio Afonso for «War«, because he is a full on death metal vocalist, and Diogo Santana for «Famine«, because he has these great low pitched vocals, perfect for that song.
Subterráneo Webzine: This EP is being released by Transcending Obscurity Records, which is making its way to becoming one of the biggest labels in extreme metal. How did they get in touch with you? Will you release more albums with them or it’s to soon to know?
Colosso: I got to know the owner of TOR back in 2016 with our record Obnoxious. He did all the PR for that album and back then there was some interest in releasing the upcoming record. This obviously didn’t happen, but we kept talking about releasing something together in the future. Then I wrote the demo for Apocalypse, showed it to him and he said it could be done. It’s yet too soon to tell, but I’m really happy with all the passion, dedication and professionalism TOR has put into Apocalypse. It’s rare to find someone who works as passionate as them!
Subterráneo Webzine: One of the things I love about you guys is that you’ve always released some remixes of your songs. You know how narrow-minded metalheads can be, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see how you tear down some non-written laws of extreme metal. What’s the process for these remixes? Do you create it, somebody else does it? Have you planned to make more of them?
Colosso: Usually we get “remixers”/DJs asking for the stems. I’m always open to remixes and love to listen to the arrangements other people do of our songs! Currently there’s no plans for new remixes, but I’m always open to that.
Subterráneo Webzine: Last question. I always ask the artists to recommend some bands that they’ve discover recently, or they simply love their music, regardless of the genre. Can you recommend us something?
Colosso: Absolutely! I recently found this band named STONED GOD and their latest album Incorporeal, which I think is so, so underrated! I mean, these guys should be supporting huge names right now! I’m also listening to the whole discography of STATIC-X at the moment! Wayne Static was a genius!
Subterráneo Webzine: Thanks for your time answering these questions. Anything else you want to add?
Colosso: Thank you so much for such a thorough interview, with all the questions about the whole discography and the process of doing it! Really dig it a lot! Cheers man!