Cursed - III: Architects of Troubled Sleep
Record Label: Goodfellow Records
Release Date: March 11, 2008
Itís been a long wait for Cursed fans. After unleashing their monstrous and aptly-titled sophomore album II in 2005, the band slowly slipped back underneath the radar, rarely touring outside their native Canada. Cursedís reticence was a blow: their unique brand of socially aware hardcore punk, stripped of any posturing or scene politics, had been a sanctuary for many in a hardcore scene increasingly drowning underneath its own bullshit. Fears of the bandís demise were finally allayed in early 2007 with the release of the Blackout at Sunrise EP, a teaser for the forthcoming full-length, though it would be another twelve months before III: Architects of Troubled Sleep finally made it into the hands and ears of fans. Was it worth the wait? To put it simply, fuck yes.
To those for whom III will be their first introduction to the band, you should expect to be pummeled mercilessly. Cursed play a brand of crusty hardcore punk most often compared with His Hero is Gone and Tragedy. III does not find the band departing from their established sonic and lyrical aesthetic, but rather refining the best elements of their identity. Harking back to their first release, the album begins with overlapping sound samples forecasting impending doom, foreshadowing the destruction which is to follow. From this point the band kicks into the frenetic "Night Terrors," which is classic Cursed: frenzied drum fills offset by down-tempo guitars with vocalist John Colohanís signature guttural bellow roaring over the top of the chaos. "Magic Fingers" and "Antihero Resuscitator" showcase perhaps the most obvious progression from II, that being the enhancement in production and engineering the band have obviously benefited from on their new release. Far from being a simple wall of noise, the sludgy guitars interlace with the clarity of dueling buzz saws, and each instrument is perfectly distinct and distinguishable without losing any of the grit or raw power for which the band has become renowned. As always, Colohanís ruminations on the evils of society, religion and consumerism are as eloquent as they are nihilistic. Lines such as ďIíve got plans Ė both my hands on the plug of your godís wasted loveĒ straddle the line between beauty and fury and are some of the finest youíll find in the genre, not to mention Colohanís own cannon.
The dirge-y "Friends in the Music Business" provides the first of what will be limited chances for the listener to draw breath. A backing-less Colohan repeatedly spits the catch-all ďdonít call me I wonít call youĒ with all the fury of a man not burned, but repeatedly incinerated by a ruined world. One gets the feeling this track will forever serve as a major exclamation point in Cursedís entire catalogue, and it is sure to become the bandís most cited work. If we havenít already reached the abyss, tracks like "Into the Hive," "III" and "Hegelís Bastards" continue the journey downwards before "Gutters" marks the point of no return. It is a track of pure aural blackness, the culmination of an ill-advised stumble through the ravages of Cursedís post-apocalyptic universe, hopeless and seemingly endless. The message of despair stays with you long after the final seconds have ticked past.
To listen to III is to find yourself immersed in the most bleakest depths of humanity, for it is a record devoid of optimism, both sonically and lyrically. Thatís not to say, however, that the band and the listener donít find catharsis in this abandonment of faith. III succeeds, as Cursedís music always has, and as all art should, in stripping reality bare of all its falsities, lies, and pretensions in a quest for truth. It is a record for anyone who has ever doubted, rightly or wrongly, the importance of hardcore music. Surrounded by a music scene increasingly crippled by triviality, generic messages and stereotypes, Cursed are, and continue to be, a fucking treasure.
good band, but i think the rating's just a little too high
in my defense, when you plug the individual scores in you don't know (at least, I can't seem to see) what's going to be spat out as the final score. Had I been given a choice, I'd probably give this a straight 90%. I know it's splitting heirs, but whatever.