24 Jul 2017

The Curse - Come Forth (Imperium Productions - 2017)

After Morbid Angel effectively turned into utter crap, The Curse from Sweden steps in to fill the void of blasphemous death metal played with immaculate precision. "Come Forth" is a  debut EP featuring seasoned veterans from the scene and members from other prominent bands, and sounds accordingly.
My interest was peaked regarding this band as soon as it was announced and I became aware that it featured members from Swedish Kaamos (RIP) when they were to open up for Hypocrisy at a show in Stockholm. That was 2013 and two years later, in late 2015 they released their first EP in digital form and now in 2017 it is finally also available in vinyl format through Imperium Productions.
Ominous chanting starts of the opening track "Morbid Mass" and just before you are about to release a deep sigh over another "spooky intro" to a metal album The Curse blasts you with a relentless onslaught of double kicks and tremolo guitar work. The song continues in similar fashion, with Karl Envall's voice sounding familiar from his days in Kaamos. His growls have never been one of those that I consider the best within the genre, but it has to be said that they feel very honest. Very little reverb and compression is used on them (compression is a death metal vocalists best friend in the studio) and what you hear in here is what he also delivers at live shows. The track alternates between heavy interludes and the aforementioned fast parts before moving into a more atmospheric part in the middle with marching snares and guitars with a lot of effects on them. Karl bellows about "fire and brimstone" and other appropriate themes while we move into the final chorus.
Next up the title track "Come Forth" which wastes no time and moves directly into the chorus. Here there is no mistake about the Morbid Angel influences, with dissonant chords quickly swirling over the neck of the guitars while drummer Victor Parri tries his best to pound his kit into dust. Victor seems to be playing in almost every band from Sweden right now, dealing in everything from doom- death- and black metal, and he really shines here. I assume that even Pete "The Feet" Sandoval would be in awe of this performance. The Curse are good at changing things up and becoming an endless blastbeat orgy, just don't expect any experimental interludes, but a lot of breaks, shifts in tempo and chord-styles to keep things fresh and interesting.
The title track fades out before the drums kick off "Azazel", a mid-tempo number who initially draws the mind to the likes of Bolt Thrower or Asphyx before becoming a complete thrash-fest in the verses. This track has a captivating groove to is and the chorus will get you hooked immediately (if you don't have an odd aversion to catchy death metal). The drums that introduce the song are a bit obviously triggered when singled out like that, and if I had engineered the album I would have removed the trigger for just that part, but altogether the sound is fine and I won't be a stickler about triggered drums in this type of death metal. I'll merrily scream "Azazeeel!" along with the track until the needle finally has grinded away the grooves on my LP.
"Of Darkness Born" offers up several different types of blastbeats in shorter time than most bands do in a lifetime, something that more bands "of the blasting kind" should try out instead of continuously sticking to the classic grind every time. It offers up some needed variety as I find that tracks with an endless grind throughout it are a complete bore. This track keeps a high pulse throughout without going for a heavy interlude in the middle and barely reaches over the three minute mark before finishing off.
If the previous track was the most intense on this EP "INRI Stigma" is the most laid back, and I am using this term very loosely here. Laid back in the terms of The Curse is still more energetic than most. Here we get the only proper guitar solo within these tracks, and while it is nothing completely mind-blowing I would gladly welcome more as the band seems to have two capable lead guitarists in Fredrik Hernborg and Nicklas Eriksson. And yes, they each play a solo back-to-back in this track, as a band should when having two guitarists. This is a very heavy track with the occasional bursts of hyper-aggression who also doesn't go on for barely more than three minutes.
My favorite track on the EP is "Ancient Curses", even if it serves up the "spooky intro" that we nearly avoided in the opener, luckily it doesn't drag along for more than ten seconds here either. A phased guitar introduces the main riff before we are completely carpet-bombed by the full power of The Curse, if this doesn't get your neck moving you must not have one. The band takes a short break to scream the title of the track from the top of their lungs, only to repeat the whole process again immediately afterwards. Meaning that we get to hear this fantastic riff start off with a "Uh!" two times before the intro is over, absolutely fantastic. The verses are very atmospheric and dark, and if you thought the chorus to "Azazel" was catchy you're in for a ride here. This track has been on constant repeat in my head more times than I would care to admit, and not due to being trivially simple, but due to being of utmost quality. A riff heavy as any leads out of the track, as well as the EP in whole, as The Curse gradually slows down in the final measures and the final sound we hear is a stone slab shutting the lid of an ancient tomb.
As stated earlier I won't rag on triggered kicks here as it is as much part of the genre as distorted guitars at this point, and Parri's drumming is nothing else than commendable. The mix is fine, with a nasty guitar tone that fits the mood and a honest vocal performance. I could go for having the bass louder in the overall mix, but since Karl handles both vocals and bass duties at the same time I have a hunch that there isn't a lot of flashy bass tricks going on that we are being robber of behind the wall of sound.
"Come Forth" is a high quality offering throughout and absolutely ends with a bang, and the strong choruses from the time of Kaamos has not gone MIA since their heyday. As one can demand form musicians of this caliber, the EP leaves little to want even after a careful examination. Since it was initially released in 2015 I really hope that they have something more to offer soon. Until then "Ancient Curses" will probably keep me going for some more time yet. "Come Forth" emerges from its tomb with: 7,9/10

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