Mega Colossus – Riptime Review

You might be surprised to hear that even in a position of relative music authority, more than a handful of my recommendations fall flat.1 Case in point: Riptime. I’ve preached the virtues of this album more than a handful of times on Twitter to zero fanfare. My AMG colleagues, caught in the fever of the 2021 list season, essentially shrugged it off.2 Now here I am, in full clown makeup, writing a few hundred words to apparently nobody at all. And that’s okay, because even if it’s for my own amusement, there’s no other band I’d rather be writing about right now than Mega Colossus. Whether the other best metal band from North Carolina receives their due attention, it doesn’t change the fact that Riptime represents trad metal joy incarnate.

Of course, based on the opening ripper that is “Razor City,” one might not initially register Mega Colossus as a traditional metal act. This track possesses more authentic thrash metal energy than the bulk of modern thrash acts, and it does so while clearly outlining Mega Colossus’s thesis of energetic, incessantly catchy heavy metal. If one were to distill Slough Feg’s melodic heights, Dire Peril’s infectious rhythms and storytelling, and 3 Inches of Blood’s fluid marriage of thrashing speed, Riptime just might be the end result. It’s a formula that feels at once precisely calculated and effortlessly charismatic. The joyous drop of the borderline pop punk refrain of “Midnight Zone” and the casually cool delivery of the lyric “rock and fuck and roll all night” in “Run to the Fight” reveal a band that is having infinitely more fun with their craft than your favorite band.

The deceptively complex compositions play into Riptime’s entertainment factor as much as its excellent melodies and kinetic rhythms. Each song (sans the sprawling “Iron Rain”) follows traditional songwriting paths, yet all are injected with massive bridge sections that reroute expectations and make each track feel like a self-contained epic. Riptime is awash with smart songwriting tricks, like the ending chorus in “Midnight Zone” which cleverly combines and expands the lyrics of the two preceding refrains, or the intercut slow sections in “Run to the Fight” and “Iron Rain” which serve to highlight a dramatic shift in each song’s storytelling. The songs are universally engaging thanks to the sheer quality of the songwriting, with the only minor disappointment coming from “Vigilo Confido,” which is tightly written yet slightly unsurprising in its delivery. Its chorus also feels a tad too close to the verse of “Fear of the Dark” for comfort.

Speaking of Iron Maiden, the wonderful narrative lyrics feel obviously Maiden inspired while sounding distinctly “80’s action movie” in their cool guy delivery. That cool guy is Sean Buchanan, who, while not the most technically proficient singer, is fast becoming one of my favorites in the genre. His vocals are best described as unpretentious, with a loose, melodious delivery that can handily ascend to searing high notes at a moment’s notice. All members of Mega Colossus are exceptionally skilled, especially guitarists Bill Fischer and Chris Millard, whose persistently adventurous guitar work makes even the intentionally plodding pace of “Tinker Tanner”3 a workout for the ears. All of this is engineered expertly by Al Jacob, who has delivered one of the best production jobs I’ve heard this year. It may come across as too clean or modern for some, but Riptime sounds punchy, dynamic, and nuanced.

Mega Colossus describes their sound as “adventure metal,” and while it really boils down to a hybrid of traditional, power, and thrash metal, I don’t find this descriptor kitschy or deceptive. There is something refreshingly distinct about their sound that immediately drew me to their 2019 V EP—which, by the way, is also mandatory listening—and that sound is even tauter and refined on Riptime. I don’t naturally gravitate to traditional metal, so the fact that I consider this release to be one of the year’s very best should say something for its evident quality. If only someone else but me would listen to it. Rock and fuck and roll all night, motherfuckers. God, what a good fucking lyric.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: (Bandcamp) |
Releases Worldwide: December 17th, 2021

Show 3 footnotes

  1. This is why I stopped recommending music to people. – Holdeneye
  2. Not I! Steel fully embraces and celebrates it. – Steel
  3. Yes, comment section, I know this is a reference to The Kingkiller Chronicle. No, I am not reading it until that dude learns to write at a faster pace than GRRM.
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