Canada’s favorite hardcore sons return with imaginatively titled II to follow up the buzz causing debut One. Playing a form of stark, barren post hardcore, that I call ‘minimalist core’, Cursed’s noisy Converge meets newer Entombed meets Motorhead form of brooding metal isn’t for the casual hardcore/punk fans as it’s dirty, grimy and vitriolic.

With ominous artwork and an equally ominous intro, the album is steeped in a shadowy, sneering aura that’s rather grim compared to hardcore’s usual boisterousness. The punishing guitar tone and gravelly rhythm section enforces the album’s overall grey mood, delivering thick, yet salty riffs and lurching percussion. Rather than raucous anthemic hardcore tunes, Cursed come across as more underhandedly sinister and divergently dissonant. Not as a caustically metal as Converge, as there is still some innate hardcore bravado, but still a seething one person pit of violent noise rather than the brotherhood and unity of more traditional hardcore.

After the brooding “Intro”, “Fatalist” opens the floodgates with a surprisingly controlled build before exploding and careening into the devastating gait of “Reparations”, a power chord effigy that’s way do biting for most punk fans to tolerate. The filthy tones of “RIP” and it’s grating resonance is a harsh display of biting hardcore, while “Head of the Baptist” fully enforces the Entombed death ‘n’ roll vibe, but with a nasty side. “The Void” breaks up the album’s teeth grinding visage with a well placed piano break, that while slightly out of place seems to fit in with Cursed’s overall, darker themes and approach to hardcore. The peace is shattered by the burly title track and its more traditional, if still biting take on hardcore’s more familiar pace.

The production on II is just sick; no glossy, polished tones, just an acerbic, battery acid spewing, skin peeling dissonance that sounds as raw and live as I’ve heard from a studio album. Even when delivering surly, slower riffs like “Clocked In, Punched Out”, a six minute brooding track of Mastodon/Isis like gilding, the tone is still uncomfortably visceral. The smoky haze of that track is blown away by the immediate ferocity of “Model Home Invasion” and the superbly titled atmospheric closer “Hell Comes Home”, which puts a foreboding endnote on the album. I have never heard hardcore/punk this primal and savage, as the whole album seems to come at you with the tenacity of a rabid wolverine or a drunk Hispanic gypsy with a knife, whose daughter you just violated.

Even at its most introspective, is oozes a menace that virtually all hardcore I’ve listened to lacks, shielding it with a false machismo front. And while Cursed could questionably be called ‘hardcore’ and have more in common with the likes of Converge, they seem to have hardcore’s undercurrent pulsing beneath their savage exterior. Either way, a devastating metal album, that with only their second effort puts Cursed’s boot rudely in the door of the classics.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 24th, 2005


  1. Commented by: .W.

    Absolutely underrated album, shreds from start to finish, with “Head Of The Baptist” being a standout. Great lyrics, too. Might compare with His Hero Is Gone (pre-Tragedy)?

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