It’s strange when you categorise whole swathes of bands or albums by a single personality. King Diamond being one example (although I suppose Mercyful Fate and King Diamond perhaps can’t be considered a ‘swathe’) Scott Vogel being another (I once put it to Vogel that Buried Alive was the best Vogel band, he was vociferously opposed to this opinion to say the least). In the case of Countdown to Oblivion, it’s hard to see the band in any other guise but a certain stage in the brilliant career of a certain Chris Colohan. With a devout refusal to fact check, I surmise a guess that CTO came about somewhere between Left For Dead and The Swarm in Colohan’s career.
In terms of sound they’re pretty much slap bang between the two. Full of punk rock production and crusty beats with an inkling of spazzy metal extras to give it that extra punch. I remember the first time I heard the self titled 7″ at my friend Olly Dean’s house in between blasting the fuck out of Abnegation, Extinction, Day of Suffering and other nonsense while we read Peta pamphlets, talked about ecological jihad and discussed which pint sized vegan sxe girls with impossibly large breasts we fancied but would never dream of talking to. CTO hit me in the face like some sort of abrasive metaphor, they sounded like the best parts of Fall Silent (fast and chaotic) with just enough metalcore leanings to make me want to air guitar and kickbox at the same time. I went on for years going on at people how they were my second favourite Chris Colohan band after The Swarm, but in hindsight I think that fleeting listen gave an impression of majesty which contemporary consideration doesn’t smile so kindly upon. Don’t misunderstand me, these songs are a mile and a half better than most of the shit getting churned out in the 21st century: the sheer bottom ended mess of The Way It Is and Take It Apart are endlessly enjoyable, and they’re songs which I would certainly have lost my mind to see live and stage mosh to 10 years ago. But if you compare them to the unmistakeable anger and energy of Left for Dead or the musicianship of The Swarm, they leave something lacking. I also think its a bit odd having a discography that is essentially 8 songs with what must be either demo or early recordings of the same songs tacked on at the end.
I don’t want to come across overly critical, and perhaps it is unfair to compare CTO to bands that only really share a member or two. Furthermore, the only reason I come across as somewhat dismissive is that I’m considering these songs in the same ballpark as The Swarm which is one of my all time top five hardcore bands, obviously a high benchmark to try and achieve. If you’re a fan of Canadian hardcore, of any Chris Colohan bands, of the likes of Undying, Catharsis, Gehenna, Fall Silent, etc, then I urge you to spare some time to check out Countdown to Oblivion. Play the songs so loud they hurt, go skateboarding, stare out shit head drunks in a bar and hold back the urge to glass them, blast them in your ears at an unbearable volume while you trudge through the snow to work the job you hate. It is a music born of rage, and it’s there to be enjoyed for all the world haters out there. A389 delivers once again.
And for the people that care, my Chris Colohan band rankings go as follows:
- The Swarm
- Left for Dead
- Countdown to Oblivion
- Burning Love