Sometimes, I can’t make up my mind. I was originally going to write a full review on this debut album from Costa Rica’s The Cursed, and then it was going to be part of a Triple Feature. But then, when I went to write about it, I realized that I did indeed want to review it in full. This type of music doesn’t generally inspire many words in my head, but there is something about this album that I rather like, and there is also something about this album that feels very nostalgic and familiar to me. The Cursed released their debut, self-titled album on October 8th.
The band, as I said, hails from Costa Rica and includes Alfonso Pérez on guitar, David Cubero on vocals, Abel Guier on bass, Massimo Hernández on drums, and Juan Pablo Calvo (of Will of the Mountain) on guitar and mellotron. This album was brought to my attention through Juan after reviewing his Will of the Mountain album, which is fantastic, by the way.
The musical style here is metal/rock that is definitely in the tone of Mastodon and Black Sabbath. You can hear it all over every single song. I can also hear some shoegaze guitars that remind me of Anathema on a few tracks, and I tend to like those tracks the best. This combination of classic heavy metal and more ethereal sounds does create a haunting, ominous feeling to the album, and the band really rides the corners of progressive music on several tracks. Honestly, the album rides the lines of rock and metal, as well, as there are plenty of riffs and the like, but lots of more alternative distorted guitar work, too.
One thing I really like about this album is that there is a definite sense of melody. David harmonizes quite a bit vocally, even though his other vocals are quite gruff. The guitars here, too, feel ethereal and towering, but with a metal sensibility to them, as well. It’s an interesting combination that makes this album quite enjoyable from beginning to end, not to mention the very cool lumbering, bulky sound that it produces.
The performances here are larger than life. David’s vocals are pretty gruff, like the less emotional side of alternative rock/metal. In fact, his voice reminds me of several alternative singers back in my high school days, specifically Sean Danielsen of Smile Empty Soul. The guitar work is immense, both in range and in gritty riffage, and the soloing is well composed. The guitars feel meaty and are complemented by a fantastic rhythm section that hits hard and rumbles loudly.
The album is full of great songs. “Gatekeeper” is a great opener with some catchy harmonized vocals. “Scourge” is another favorite that has this metallic shoegaze feeling to it that I like. “Cronemberg”, though, is my favorite; probably because it has the most alternative metal sound of any of the songs. The chorus is very catchy and reminds me of a specific song that I won’t mention, but it evokes nostalgia in me, for sure.
Other favorites are “Spirit Beast”; a strong track with a great chorus and melodic guitars; and “The Horror Within”, one of the best on the album with its haunting tone, and I especially love the sax solo near the end. The album finishes with a more progressive song called “Ritual”. It is more melodic and even cinematic than the rest of the album, and it ends the album on a very strong point.
So, The Cursed show lots of potential here. They are mixing the lumbering metal of Mastodon with more exquisite and spiritual feelings from Anathema, and it’s a great combination. I’m also impressed with their production and marketing materials. I feel like this band has a great future ahead of them!