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Album Reviews : Cursed Earth – Cycles of Grief: The Complete Collection

By on October 25, 2017

If five years ago you told me that grindpowerHM2violencecore was going to be the next big ticket genre, hip with the younguns, I would’ve found your girlfriend in the pit and crowd killed both of you fucking poser cowards.

But as it turns out, like The Pixies for grunge, KoRn for nu-metal, and Jimmy Saville for dismantling the institutions which obfuscate systemically perpetuated sexual assault in the music industry, Nails seem to have legitimised this oversaturated, over-distorted, deliberately-bad-so-it’s-good dogshit genre and made it profitable among the demographic not legally old enough to swap dick pics or vote. And good on ‘em, cause I love this stuff, and the more demand grows, the more the invisible hand of the free market will scoop these bands out of obscurity and plop them into my ears.

Cursed Earth is an archetypal version of whatever this genre is. Eschewing quirkiness or uniqueness in favour of doing this style of music right has paid off; there’s no bullshit moments of taking features from other, trendier genres, and shoehorning them in for the sake of diversity or difference. The riffs on Cycles of Grief are grimy, the drums are blasty, the bass is there probably I dunno, and the vocals, which are definitely a stand out across the EPs, are crunchy and pissed off. You know what you’re getting from the very first track (NB, besides that tempo change which just irks me. It’s a personal gripe, but fuck you this is a personal review. I hate it), and if you don’t what you hear in the first minute I don’t think Cursed Earth give a shit. At least I hope not. That’d be upsetting. Imagine if they were just bummed out all the time because some people don’t like their niche music.

Overall, these EPs do exactly what they say they’ll do on the box – be heavy, and noisy, and angry as heck. There’s the right amount of distortion on literally everything, there’s the perfect ratio of thrash-to-groove, and the track lengths never go for longer than they should, besides the obligatory “prog-grind epic” album closer which clocks in at a mammoth, Lord Of The Rings-esque four minutes. Who the fuck has time for a four minute song these days?

There’s only one thing that stands out for me, and it’s the slight inconsistency in songwriting. Sometimes you can more hear “what they’re going for” instead of what they actually went for. A couple breakdowns fall flat, some riffs are cliched, and the drums can fluctuate between “uninspiring” and “high school enthusiastic overplaying.” But that’s not the whole story, because sometimes the band produces what are to my mind some of the best riffs and hooks in this entire genre, past and present. Sanctioned Violence is one of the best metal tracks of the last 5 years, period; the drums don’t play a single beat more or less than they need to, the hook has room to breathe while being bolstered by backing tracks, and the vocal lines perfectly weave around the riffs. Maybe there’s even bass in there, again, I’m not sure. But it’s fucking glorious, and there are a number of other songs almost as good.

But that’s the rub – Sanctioned Violence and the rest of the amazing songs stand out precisely because they’re so good. They highlight all the other times the band fails to execute on a breakdown or hook, and I’m left asking why they couldn’t get these other sections perfect, when they’re clearly capable of doing it some of the time? I don’t know why – maybe they’re still figuring out how to write as a unit, maybe some sections are written by specific members, maybe they had a producer put their foot down and demand a part be recorded a certain way, maybe some songs were written months or years apart. Maybe I don’t like this style of music as much as I think do. I’m not sure what it is, but when Cursed Earth is going hard, no one matches them. And this isn’t to say the other songs are bad either, just that they’re only “pretty good” in comparison. Which is fine, but by god I want to hear the album where they manage to capture and distill those moments of greatness.

Cursed Earth have been really good for a while now, and this EP cements it. But hopefully, this is the start of something truly fucking incredible. Given the awesomeness that shines through on occasion, I can’t imagine why it won’t be.

Band: Cursed Earth
Album: Cycles of Grief: The Complete Collection
Year: 2017
Genre: Hardcore
Label:  UNFD
Origin: Australia

About

Mitch is a 26 year old vegan, socialist, atheist, utilitarian, reductionist metalhead, stand up comedian and philosophy major that hates labels. When he isn't being politely ignored at dinner parties he's being politely ignored on comedy nights around the country.