Artist: Cursed Earth
Album: Cycles of Grief, Volume One: Growth – EP
We are born to poisoned soil—a planet corrupt by mankind’s own hand. Some of us take it to heart, toiling day-in, day-out and working weekends to do our best to turn it around—to reduce our mark on this planet and make it a better place. But for every one person who dedicates their livelihood to the ground we stride upon, there are ten more who exist as little more than walking smokestacks of pollution and disease. Every breath is another swing at the planet’s integrity—every step is a crack in Earth’s firmament, condemning it to an inevitable implosion.
We live on a Cursed Earth, and it grows sicker and closer to death with every day.
This bitterness—aimed at social constructs, society at large and every instance of mankind’s belligerence and borish maltreatment of each other—fuels the visceral aggression and raunchy, violent demeanor of Australian heavy hardcore act Cursed Earth. On the first installment of their next series of EPs, titled Cycles of Grief, Volume One: Growth (Cycles of Grief, Vol I), the band prove their punishing, powerful dynamic with an iron fist and a soul of stone. Combining skin-shredding riffs, gritty production and intense heaviness all in ten terrifying minutes of agony and anger, Cursed Earth extend their misanthropic style of metal-infused hardcore to listeners around the world, taking pity on none.
Five songs clocking in at just under ten minutes, Cursed Earth have no time to waste on Cycles of Grief, Vol I—which is fitting, because they don’t waste a second. From the ominous dissonance and grim onset of “War March,” through the straightforward and mosh-friendly “Sanctioned Violence,” the band combine bleak atmosphere and blistering force with a practiced hand. Sam Forward, the group’s percussionist and steadily ticking heart, does just that—keep Cursed Earth plowing forward, hitting the gas on “Broken” and never looking back. One second, his feet fly at Mach speed, while the next see his low, looming toms roaring with a gut-twisting, brooding and dismal essence about them. Forward dictates the band’s level of intensity throughout the EP—be it with his scathing blast beats that kick off “Discarded,” or the crushing conclusion to “War March.” The latter especially sees Forward working excellently with bassist Robert Owens—who may not be readily audible during much of Cycles of Grief, Vol I, but is a necessity for the album’s more aggressive aspects. The closing portion of “Discarded,” especially—as well as “War March” and “Violated” see Owens adding heft and thickness to Forward, providing a low end that ties in excellently with the riffs and chugs from guitarists Kieran Molloy and Paul Cottrell. Cottrell and Molloy are gritty and imperfect in an incredible and ideal way. The riffs and grooves abundant on Cycles of Grief, Vol I reek of dissonance and desperation in a way that strikes fear and spikes adrenaline within the listener. “Violated” does this best—with the duo starting in a spastic fashion but quickly gathering heir composure to synchronize and craft an ultra-catchy two-step that drops into a soaring-but-dissonant lead that captures the dialectic between hardcore and metal Cursed Earth boast in a picture-perfect light.
Where Cursed Earth’s instrumental element is rough around the edges and raw, the band’s vocal effort is just as much so—if not more. Frontwoman Jazmine Luders is jarring and ludicrous with her savage, throat-shredding screams and grisly bellows. Where the looming “War March” sees her voice in moderate use, songs like “Sanctioned Violence” witness her lashing out against the misuse of authority with ruthless yells and bitter, burly bellows that provide variety to reinforce her voracious vocal stylings and lyrical message. This dialectic sets the tone for much of Cycles of Grief, Vol I, as Luders barks and brays with unstoppable candor and ferocious fervor—refusing to let a single second of the whirlwind ten-minute release go by without her adding a degree of aggression and intensity into the mix. “Discarded” sees her endurance functioning in top form, letting loose with a long string of lyrics before stopping to catch a breath—where “Sanctioned Violence” and “Violated” both are her at her lyrical peak. Luders works her ass off on Cycles of Grief, Vol I and it shows, with one of heavy hardcore’s better performances this year.
It would be a misnomer to call Cycles of Grief, Vol I “short but sweet.” Not because the sentiment is inaccurate, but because it’s factually wrong. While Cursed Earth’s first cycle of grief is certainly short, it is far from sweet—instead it is acrid and bitter, brutal to its very core—and the listener shouldn’t want it any other way. Ten minutes of non-stop intensity—while fun in its own right—still feels a little too short, but that doesn’t stop it from standing strong in its own right, lashing out at anything in striking range and inflicting pure, punishing grief.
For Fans Of: Mercy Blow, Misgiver, Born a New
By: Connor Welsh