Inhale the disease of the self-declared sacred mind, an affliction by the divine hand manifested as a blackened coughing lung. Spewing unto frailty imparted as punishment for the pollution of the body of man with the thought on ‘God’, a witless contrivance and myriad-spoke’d wheel of cruel invention, a psychotic war against Death. Gaping and ragged, life’s cure from the claws of resilient eons spent circling the slow drain sits splayed wide where light’s creation is erased, the whim of a bored creator who once again claims the all-consuming dark as their own. Writhing in dissociative void and hammering out arcane odes to the infinite obsidian sea on the horizon, five years of darkness now spawn ‘Endless Wound’ as the debut full-length album from Denver, Colorado black/death metal collective Black Curse. A side-project built from the loose teeth and bones of new and old ‘Gods’ and a bestial death metal concussed war metallic delight for the yet indoctrinated, this fine debut arrives as a bludgeon over-carved and wrought with barbaric intensity, a weight that’ll prove too severe for all but the most resilient.
Due to a necessary early release much of the interesting trivia flown about Black Curse is already well known by the intended markets. The project started back in 2015 as Maliblis and changed their name soon after the release of their first demo tape (‘Promo ’17‘, 2017). Each of the four members of this band are best known for Denver-based metal projects that’ve breached the underground within the last handful of years and most are freshly signed to what could be considered major labels in terms of their extreme metal style. Blood Incantation, Khemmis, and Primitive Man members form the core line-up with Spectral Voice and Vasaeleth providing some extra cult membership interest. The release of a second demo (‘Endless Wound‘, 2019) was more of a pre-production teaser and hinted at some major work being done aligning the machinery of Black Curse‘s sound up to that point and pointing towards a death metal album with a heavy focus on ‘modern’ war metal style. War metal or bestial black/death metal, however you’d describe it is forever underground music that will certainly never be the next ‘grindcore’ but the todays barbaric death metal fad has opened new doors to accessible and frighteningly destructive war metal with some increasing frequency year over year. The currency Black Curse are banking here isn’t so much the nepotism of their collective pool of fandom but rather some serious insight into combining 80’s death metals free-wheeling violence with the bounding and dosed intentional barbarism of today.
How do you get a pure death metal fan to listen to any other brand of heavy metal? Riffs, lots of them and with the majority’s share of ’em delivered with purpose and intentional placement. A tall order for bestial black/death metal but not if dialed back to the advent of extreme metal itself in the garages of North American teenagers circa 1986. Label mates Concrete Winds (and their previous project Vorum) tapped into this connection last year with similarly impressive results and Black Curse arrive with some differently sourced and expressed influences. Much like early Teitanblood (see: ‘Seven Chalices‘), Ruin Lust, and Antichrist Siege Machine today an intense but also occasionally clear production sound with a skull-splattering hammer of a guitar tone is key for distinguishing riffs which limit their black metal influences considerably when compared with the more traditionally angled balance of bestial black metal mutants. This heavier frantic sound employed isn’t all there is to Black Curse but it sets them apart from otherwise comparable bands such as Ascended Dead and closer to Obscure Burial‘s Necrovore-esque reaping as well as whips into pure death metal moments that recall Kaamos or Karnarium at their most atmospheric. Echoing brutal insanity crossing over to war metal mania without a great deal of actual black metal sourced for movements beyond aesthetics.
Blackened, bestial, war and ancient death, there is appreciable dimension to this album’s blast n’ writhing jolt but it is the drugged atmospheric dips into sullen doom that comes most unexpected in the span of the full listen. Opener “Charnel Rift” makes the most incredible first impression with its middle section, a howling vortex of tormented psychedelic voices and unnaturally woven riffs that ooze out just long enough that the mid-paced blasts come back right in time for the song’s commanding reprisal and savage main riff. It feels very much like the insanity of a band like Katharsis is injected into a modernist death metal mind and recklessly come to terms with that new infection. That’d be a lot of the ‘fun’ within amorphous blends of black/death metal as fans who cross over between both can appreciate the blend on some exponential level. More warbling, creep-mode psychedelia appears in the second half of “Enraptured by Decay” but the apex of this watery infection comes with the title track. If there is a single track the appropriately sums the impact, interest and appeal of Black Curse‘s efforts on this fin debut album it is “Endless Wound”, an initially simple piece that threatens to go off the rails for a couple of minutes before the elastic twang of the guitars seeps into the first of several refrains unto syrupy menace, a simple progression that implies a rotten descent that persists even when the storm picks back up. It might not sound like much on paper but it is a significant moment for the bands stylistic intelligence, maybe not the best example of killer riffs but much of the album concerns itself with all manner of bestial mania and ripping death; The hammer of impact in question resolves within the next song, album closer “Finality I Behold”.
Most folks will understand the upfront face-value reaction of the ingrained contrarian to Black Curse‘s debut, it is war metal with big death-sized riffs that are uncharacteristic for the niche, and boy do I have a list of fifty records you need if you love this… point being that ‘Endless Wound’ isn’t -just- what it seems and instead comes from an impressively realized project with great potential for even more remarkable work in the future. Will it stick with me? After five listens I wasn’t so sure, after ten spins and plenty of time spent ogling its fine Denis Forkas artwork I was trying to learn death curses to cast upon all humanity, eh… No doubt I’ll be returning to ‘Endless Wound’ all year to check in on its long term resonance and I feel good about giving it a high recommendation.
High recommendation. 4.0/5.0
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