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American band Cold Colours has been around since 1995, but they have remained relatively low profile, despite the constantly shifting lineup, with only a handful of release to date. Apart from that, the usage of the British spelling of the band name also initially led me to think that this was a British band, so it was definitely surprising to find out that this was in fact an American band. The Great Depression is the band's first full length release in more than 5 years.
With the atmospheric tag that is attached to the band, one would almost expect a heavy atmosphere with a rather polished sound, but Deny, Embrace, Define surprises listener as what is presented here is death metal leaning more towards melodic death metal/metalcore territory with a pretty raw production job. Apart from the riffing patterns, there is also the bark/growl of vocalist Brian J. Huebner that brings out the metalcore quality in the band's music. The band also attempts to experiment with various vocal effects, at times using echo effects on the vocals and this produces quite an awkward result, what with the raw production job on the album. There are also moments where he attempts to use clean vocals, but these sound out of place amongst the backdrop, though the attempt to create a King Diamond-esque wail at the beginning of Desire (The Fallen Will) sounded surprisingly good. The desperate plea on Desire (The Fallen Will) makes things even worse, making the band sound extremely emo, and this occurs pretty often throughout the entirety of the album. Daylight gives a glimpse of hope, with Brian starting off nicely but once it hits the higher portions of the song things start sounding weird.
Songwriting on The Great Depression is also pretty weak, with few moments that really catch the attention of the listener and are often easily forgotten. Despite the band's attempts at including elements from different sub-genres, these at times come across as being forced and awkward. For example, the melodic death metal riff on Daylight sees the band attempting to give it a heavier sound through the forceful chugging, but ends up making it sound overtly deliberate instead. Also, as already mentioned, one of the other main factor that caused the album to falter is the production quality of the album. The guitar tones are thin, and the drums at times sound extremely weak, and this caused the entire band to sound less powerful than it could have been, weakening the potential impact of the songs.
However, the band's attempts to create a dark and broody atmosphere on the album has to be commended, especially on the usage of stringed instruments to create a heavy mood on songs like Deny, Embrace, Define. Band mastermind Brian makes use of keyboards throughout the album as well. The emotional lead guitar solos that are present on top of these atmospheric moments also some of the more enjoyable moments on the album. Apart from that, clean guitars are also used cleverly to maintain the atmosphere and emotion in the music.
Despite that, truly enjoyable and memorable moments on the album are few, and for the most part The Great Depression sounds like any other mediocre melodic death metal album out there, only that the production quality makes the album sound weaker than it should really be. For a band that has been around for more than 15 years, The Great Depression certainly does not do the band's legacy justice.