When a band's been largely out of action for a decade, a comeback usually entails a restatement of themes. In the case of Living Colour, that would mean the soulful, Zeppelinesque stomp that powered "Cult of Personality" and other late-'80s blasts, opening many ears to the idea that four black musicians could shred just as convincingly as their white metal counterparts. Considering that the concept of black rock stars hasn't gained much traction since then, one might suppose that Living Colour would have to try doubly hard to remind listeners of its arena-sized bona fides.
Surprisingly -- and fortunately -- Collideoscope is a very different album, one that bears the heavy stamp of bassist and executive producer Doug Wimbish. Most of these songs are informed by his work with groundbreaking outfits like Tackhead, with dub and electronic undercurrents casting shadowy tendrils around Vernon Reid's guitar squalls. That hardly dilutes the band's power: "Choices Mash Up" covers the On-U-Sound classic "Happy Shopper" for a bludgeoning critique of consumerism, while the paranoid "A ? of When" is a direct descendant of "Hellhound on My Trail," with Corey Glover screaming "Who do you love?/Who do you hate?/Who do you love?/Who's at the gate?"
The tune that will attract the most notice is undoubtedly the brave and conceptually brilliant cover of AC/DC's "Back in Black," a straight shot of rock that treats its Aussie authors right. In reality, though, it's the surrounding dark-hued tunes that prove Living Colour is back, black, and rightfully proud.