Coliseum’s new album, “Sister Faith,” finds the Louisville band in its usual peak sonic form: punishing, unrelenting, a blunt object swung with lethal force. But there’s another, softer story beneath the post-hardcore, vintage metal roar.
Band leader Ryan Patterson is the soul of introspection, despite how he might sound when bellowing over a deep Motorhead-like grind. While writing “Sister Faith” last year, he lost a close to cancer in Jason Noble, and his wife’s father also passed.
“Sister Faith” is dedicated to them both, and its songs often touch on aspects of loss, the resulting confusion and the need to appreciate those still living. The album’s release is being celebrated with a show Friday night at Zanzabar, 2100 S. Preston St.
“I really like the idea of a record being a snapshot of the year that it’s written, and it was a heavy year,” Patterson said. “I wouldn’t tag it as our most personal record or a record about loss, but that was everywhere, and it affected everything I had to say and everything I was thinking about.”
Patterson addresses those feelings most directly in “Save Everything.” The song is named after an album by Shipping News, one of Noble’s bands, and deals with the notion that by embracing experiences and memories, you keep those things alive.
That idea resonated for Patterson in some unexpected ways. He found himself thinking about what it means to maintain a full-time band into his 30s, and whether it stops being worthwhile at some point. But if you embrace it all, if you save everything, then everything becomes worthwhile.
“All of these experiences, everything you say and do and all you create, it sticks with you,” Patterson said. The song is “almost an exposed nerve in how literally it addressed how I was feeling at the time.”
Another reason the song resonates is that Coliseum will hit its 10th anniversary later this year, and the band has been on Patterson’s mind. After four widely acclaimed albums and a few lineup changes, he’s the only remaining original member.
That’s no accident; Patterson was determined to make Coliseum last. He jumped from band to band throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, never staying longer than a couple of years. Many were very good, but none were his.
“I started Coliseum when I was 25, 26, and felt like I had already been in this long string of bands and none had really been a defining band in my life,” he said. “Someone jokingly said, ‘Oh, are you like the session guy in Louisville?’ and I thought, man, I don’t want to be that. I want something that defines my life, that is a legacy.”
So Coliseum was begun as a mission and has always sounded like it. “Coliseum” was released in 2004, followed by “No Salvation” (2007), “House With a Curse” (2010) and now “Sister Faith.” None have the sound of compromise.
Patterson loves the band’s current lineup, with Carter Wilson on drums and Kayhan Vaziri on bass. Wilson joined around three years ago and Vaziri only last year.
“Both those guys are much better musicians than I am, the kind of guys who pick up music instantaneously and can just jump from thing to thing and style to style much better than me,” Patterson said.
“They’ve revitalized the band in every way for me. At certain points before each of them joined, the band (got to) where it just wasn’t fun, and you start to wonder what’s the point if it’s difficult? It’s not a business. It’s not Metallica.”
Between the energy of a new lineup and the emotional focus of his songwriting, Patterson said that “Sister Faith” almost feels like a first album.
“For this one I felt very content about who the band was and what we were trying to do,” he said. “I felt like we had finally nailed down the sound, and felt like there wasn’t anything to prove. I felt like the slate was clean, and because of that I think the record is connecting with people in a far greater way than anything else we’ve done.”