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Cursed - Two

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Artist: Cursed

Album: Two

Label: Goodfellow

Review date: Jun. 12, 2005

A Hamilton, Ontario, quintet whose members – vocalist C. Colohan, guitarists C. McMaster and R. Moumneh, bassist T. Piraino, and drummer/pianist M. Maxymuik – are veterans of the Canadian extreme music scene, Cursed is trying hard to appeal to fans of vintage hardcore and contemporary progressive metal. They will likely succeed, but I’m not completely sold on Two. Unlike a lot of “metalcore” bands – and they seem, sadly, to be springing up like weeds, with identikit white belts and so forth – this group actually has a good deal of genuine hardcore in their sound. And, taken in the abstract, this album has a lot of the things I look for in good post-hardcore heaviness: force, syncopation, breakdowns, texture, and so forth. So why don’t I like it more? I think it’s that these virtues and musical strengths are frequently rendered afterthoughts as Cursed choose to spend most of this record preoccupied with touching as many bases as possible. To me the result is one of those albums where stylistic variety shades into inconsistency.

The production values matter here, and will be quite familiar to those who listen to a lot of this kind of music. The vocals are compressed, the sound a bit muddy (dare I say, Albini-ish?), in the attempt – one presumes – at conveying some kind of claustrophobic intensity. But it doesn’t quite grab you, since the material is so scattershot. Consider the range and the progression of these various essays. The disc opens with the big amp-destroying drone of “Intro,” which cedes rather predictably into a mid-tempo chug-fest (with some ubiquitous feedback squalling and anthemic thrashing). It’s not that any of these elements is inherently lame, and I’m hardly a plug-eared cynic about these conventions; it’s just that nothing is actually explored with any depth before Cursed are onto the next idea, the next style. “Fatalist” is in the angry hardcore idiom – think of vintage NYHC crossed with Converge – probably their best sound. “Reparations” opens with a pretty tired recording trick: two measures of lo-fi that suggest an authentic 4-track basement demo before the tune explodes into life with contemporary production values.


“Head of the Baptist” runs an improbable stylistic gamut, all the way from My War era Black Flag to Pig Destroyer with a smidgen of Lamb of God thrown in. “The Void” is a brief elegiac interlude – whose purpose is uncertain – before the onslaught of the title track. Equally unconvincing are the long stoner track “Clocked In Punched Out” and the closing “Hell Comes Home,” with its rain sounds.

It’s not that this is a bad recording. Cursed is a good band, and must be a lot of fun live. But it’s just not that memorable either, with the hoarse screaming, jagged guitar aggression, and pummeling breakdowns all sounding a bit by-the-numbers. With so much good post-hardcore stuff out there, I want more than Two gives me.

By Jason Bivins

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