ALBUM REVIEW: Curses – Chapter II: Bloom

Release Date: August 7th 2020
Label: SharpTone Records
Website: None available


Since bursting onto the scene with their 2017’s ‘Chapter I: Introspect’, West Virginia’s Curses have steadily amassed quite the following. When your first album boasts a track (‘Fortune Collapse’) featuring the incomparable Spencer Sotelo (Periphery), you know that you’re off to a strong start.

Three years on and we’ve arrived at ‘Chapter II: Bloom’, a decidedly fitting title for a project that exemplifies a group fully blossoming into their own.

Joining the ever-increasing dynamic roster of artists currently signed to SharpTone Records, a label that stretches from the deepest recesses of groove-laden aggression to unashamedly melodious territory, Curses fit snugly in the epicentre.

With a clearly defined, well-crafted approach that bolsters identifiable influences yet coalesces into a sound both refreshing and familiar, it’s an immense joy to explore a work that prioritises melody and structure over technical proficiency. That isn’t to say that that things aren’t compositionally complex, far from it, yet for a band that have notable ties to the aging djent community, the material here exudes a much more post-hardcore, almost teetering on the edge of pop-punk flare.

The dual vocals of Brandon Casto and Eli Fry are a perfect blend of scathing and vulnerable, falling somewhere between the gold metalcore standard of The Devil Wears Prada and the arresting, overwhelming passion of SikTh. Cuts like the frantic ‘Weitko’ and album highlight ‘无为 (Wu Wei)’ paint a clear image of a band not merely content to rest on their musical laurels, but striving for immediacy and clarity.

Well placed parameters allow for intricate and nuanced instrumentation to weave throughout the material without ever coming across as masturbatory. Yes, there are tightly interwoven riffs and displaced time signatures, but they’re ultimately in service to the greater scheme of the songs.

Somewhere along the way, bands in this scene forgot that flashiness alone isn’t the name of the game, and Curses seem to understand this better than most. Early single ‘The Door In The Wall’ is a prime example; a restrained, atmospheric brooding bastard of a track that slowly unravels to reveal a soaring, catchy, nigh on beautiful hook hidden amongst the chaos. It’s this seamless fusing of crushing groove and complexity with serene beauty and melodic understanding that elevates ‘…Bloom’.

Sounding like a time capsule release that fell through the metalcore cracks, Curses‘ sophomore effort effortlessly bridges two genres without ever losing sight of either.