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In the PR for Cursed Earth’s new EP, guitarist Kieran Molloy stated “The story in Cycles of Grief documents the collision of nature and nurture“, adding that “It’s an unprejudiced look into the intergenerational nature of coldness, addiction and violence“.
Molloy’s statement pretty much tells you all that you need to know about what kind of lyrical imagery and topics Cursed Earth tackle on their UNFD debut, ‘Cycles Of Grief Volume 1: Growth‘. (Which from here onwards I’m just going to refer to as ‘Growth‘ because I cannot be fucked typing the full name out every single time). From the unwarranted abuse of power by ego-tripping authority figures (‘Sanctioned Violence‘, my personal favourite of the lot) to the horrific abuse of children (‘Violated‘), broken homes and personal trauma of even further harrowing abuse (‘Broken‘) and the ever-threatening death march our species continues down in greater excess generation after generation (‘War March‘); Cursed Earth’s new EP is dark, bleak, heavy music for an equally dark, bleak and heavy world.
Musically, these Perth underground trail blazers approach hardcore and metal much the same way that Harm’s Way, Nails, Venom Prison, and Justice For The Damned do; which is to be as intense, as scathing and as violent sounding as possible. Whether it’s the pummeling blast beats and all-around solid drum performances of timekeeper Sam Forward, the tough-as-fuck guitar riffs that Molloy and his HM-2 partner in crime Paul Cottrell pump out, or the volatile, in-your-face vocal delivery from Jazmine Luders; this WA outfit writes uncompromising heavy music. The kind that’s as brutal as the fictional desert from the Judge Dredd universe that the band share’s their moniker with. So, basically, if you fucked with older tunes like ‘Suffocation‘, ‘Degenerate‘, and ‘Stark‘, then you’ll adore the abrasive sound, dire tones and depressive themes found within ‘Growth‘.
In saying all of that, in a noteworthy sonic step up from their 2016 LP, ‘Enslaved By The Insignificant‘, the production quality on this EP strikes a finer balance between clarity and rawness that never gets in the way of the band’s sound; neither making it feel under-developed nor overcooked. This allows for the quintet’s unrelenting heavy sound to shine and cut through harder than ever before, meaning you won’t be thinking about how pathetic the drums sound in the mix here like in the past.
And in perhaps a showing of how far these homegrown hardcore heroes are coming in recent times, and of the reach that their name is gathering, Cursed Earth have recruited help from both Harm’s Way’s James Pligge and Justice For The Damned’s Bobak Rafiee. Towards the end of the raging mid-EP tune, ‘Discarded‘, Rafiee delivers the best of the two features with a wickedly cool guest spot; one that compliments Luders own feature spot on JFTD’s ‘No Flowers On Your Grave‘. As for the intimidating pit-lord that is James Pligge, old mate’s gruff and tough vocals are heard in the final sections of the EP’s closing aggro affair, ‘Violated‘. And as you can guess, both guest vocalists here mould very well with Cursed Earth’s sound. All we need now is for Cursed Earth to reign in Knocked “Woof Woof” Loose’s Bryan Garris and Code Orange’s Jami Morgan for their next release and we’ll have the holiest pairing of 2017 hardcore bands-of-the-minute.
However, there is one main reason why this review’s score sits at 79/100 and not higher. As much like the subconscious inescapability of our ever-looming deaths, there’s something that nags away at me whenever I listen through ‘Growth‘. And that recurring thought, that one caveat I have with this EP, is simply this:
“…where’s the rest of it?“
I think it’s no secret that ‘Growth‘ is but one-half of a larger body of work on the way from Cursed Earth, with the second volume to probably follow sometime later this year. I hope that doesn’t come as a shock or surprise to anyone reading this. I mean, come on, as this EP’s title clearly states for the whole world to see, this is but the first volume in the larger “Cycles Of Grief” work, a supposed full record when you put ‘Growth‘ and its follow-up together. Yet that’s the real kicker for me; Cursed Earth’s much-anticipated 2017 release and their first on their new label home should have been a larger, longer, weightier full-length record. Not a mere five-track EP like this.
Because after how fucking solid ‘Enslaved…‘ was, after all of the well-deserved buzz and hype that surrounds this group, after the great opportunities that have come their way (and will rightfully continue to come their way), I feel a barely 10-minute long EP doesn’t fully capitalise on their vast momentum of late. Yes, the EP is still good regardless and it flows well because of its short length but just when ‘Growth‘ feels like it really gets going, it’s suddenly all over, sadly. Instead of beating me right down into the dirt with their latest release, this Perth group has merely pushed me aside and I’m now left standing around like a dickhead, waiting for the rest to come with a feeling that amounts to musical blue balls.
I do understand that Cursed Earth doesn’t want to blow their loads all at once, and I’m sure they’ll more than likely garner more traction and maintained interest through the remainder of 2017 by keeping people hanging out for another EP. Yet when it comes down to it, that all came at the cost of a somewhat weaker than expected release, which shouldn’t have happened. So while not the complete, intimidating record that it should have been, as it currently stands, ‘Growth’ is no doubt a solid EP. I just wish that it wasn’t alone in its release on Friday.
I don’t really have anything else to add nor do I wish to repeat myself too much, so all I’ll say to wrap this review up is that volume two had better be the fuckin’ shit!
1. War March
4. Sanctioned Violence
‘Cycles Of Grief Volume 1: Growth’ is out this Friday, August 4th via UNFD. Pre-order it here, cowards.