Three: Architects of Troubled Sleep
3/13/2009 - Review by: Etiam
Alongside Gaza, Cursed are at the helm of North America's resurgent and diversified hardcore scene. The band's third album, 'Three: Architects of Troubled Sleep', is a veritable tempest that draws from crust and sludge nearly as much as from hardcore. It is their most feral and roundly well-written release, and surely places them in the company--if not quite abreast--of Converge, with whom they've toured. Regrettably, all this positive pot-stirring is misleading in one all-important respect: the present tense.
On the final day of their European tour last May, the band were robbed in a bizarre series of events that left them without gear, passports, or money earned. This catastrophic setback was enough to break the band--they referred to the break-up as "trusting the reaper"--and suddenly leaves 'Three' as their swansong zenith. And it is indeed a shame, for at the time of their breakup the band was probing new heights, both creatively and in the public eye. Though Cursed could hold their own at pit-storming speeds against all comers, it was their willingness to shake down genre stereotypes and slow things down that raises them above their peers and 'Three' above its predecessors. 'Antihero Resuscitator' boasts Doomriders rock-n-roll, the dirge 'Unnecessary Person' evokes early Mastodon, and the ineffably pissed off 'Friends in the Music Business' is a brutal down-tempo stomp. As a seven minute instrumental, 'Gutters' is a bold addition in the album's closing spot. Built primarily around a single guitar arpeggiating a (very) few chords with a few embellishments along the way, it is an appropriately melancholic capstone to the band's career.
Vocalist Chris Colohan pens incisive lyrics on the expected social and political topics, but with a sardonic sense of humour and beat poetry rhythm that actually make them worth reading. On guitar, Christian McMaster has struggled for years against carpel tunnel syndrome in both hands, it's a testament to his passion that he took on this level of frenetic riff madness. The rest of the band's performances exude a similar, albeit less physically taxing, sense of pained urgency. This intimacy is captured superbly by the production, reflective of how meticulous the band was with with the album's sound engineering. Produced and mastered by a cabal of professionals, the final product of 'Three' features guitars that are pristinely crunchy, ragged, roaring vocals, a cannonade of d-beat drums, and a bass of distorted thunder, with no single voice overwhelming the others.
Although they are disbanded, the members of Cursed are not all out of the music scene. Members are still in such bands as Shallow North Dakota and Haymaker, while Colohan maintains the band's blog with information about Cursed merch/re-releases and plugs related artists and distros. This involvement in the scene may provide the impetus for a Cursed revival in the years to come, or perhaps the band was just the next step after The Swarm (the 90s project of three Cursed members) towards even greater success. In either event, Cursed's 'Three' is as good a hardcore album as 2008 had to offer, and the band's breakup should not cause it to be overlooked, neither now nor in the years to come.
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