To recap, I would almost never review an album that's been out over a year. Still, three people have come to me in the last week, telling me that they're still listening to this album heavily after six months. So I figured I might as well try to get it out there to some more people.
So way back, just coming into July of 2007, there was an album released under the radar of most metal people. I admit that I only stumbled across it by chance. If memory serves, I saw an advertisement for the band on Annihilator's myspace, or some such nonsense, and I wondered what it was about. So, I looked into The Cursed and their debut "Room Full of Sinners."
I knew going in that the band was fronted by Overkill head Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, but other than that, I had no perception of them whatsoever. Overkill fans take note: the similarities between The Cursed and Overkill end with the fact that Blitz is in both bands. Still, bear with me. The other notable band member is Dan Lorenzo, guitar player for Hades. This act doesn’t sound like them, either. Also, do not confuse The Cursed with Cursed, or The Curse. Three different bands, only one of them good.
What an amazing album. This is a real throwback to a simpler time in metal history, where anyone with a blues riff and an overdriven amplifier could turn the crank and produce something interesting. Every song on this album drips with enough heavy blues-based riffing to bring about thoughts of Black Sabbath or Deep Purple. To name more contemporary acts, think Clutch/Monster Magnet/Fireball Ministry, but with a heavier, dirtier consistency than any of them. It took me a while to come up with this analogy, but "Room Full of Sinners" is almost like Pantera if they covered Sabbath. But not, you know, in the overwrought 'Planet Caravan,' way.
The lyrics here are mostly concerned with women, and are a little clichéd, but don’t ultimately add or subtract from the album. They are only relevant in that it is Blitz who belts them out with a lot of power. He doesn’t bite them out as we’re so accustomed to hearing from him, but rather growls them. The true strength of the album is in the de-tuned paradise of the music, which is evil in that classic minor-key mutant-blues dark-corner kind of way. It's slow without being plodding, menacing without having to talk about it. The actual talent of the individual players showcases only in that they play well together, and appear to enjoy it.
I wish that The Cursed had backed this up with a full tour, but from what I can confirm, there wasn't much to be done with it. Even the band's website and MySpace seem only half completed. And given that Overkill has been touring to promote "Immortalis" more or less since its release, The Cursed might have been put on the back burner.
Not all the tracks are perfect. I'm not a particular fan of “Wij Leven Als God in Frankrijk,” or “Generate-her,” but even those songs don’t make me turn it off. The rest of the album makes you smile in that head-banging dirge-loving kind of way, be it for an unmistakable blues laden “Serpentine Slither,” or an unforgiving metal anthem “Queen of the Down.” The production on the album isn't perfect, but the muddiness is likely intentional. I'm sure that a band like this wanted songs like "Evil, in the Bag," and "Best of the Worst," to sound as nasty as they could.
This is the first album I've heard in a long time that would be perfect to hear live in a steaming hot club down in a bayou swamp somewhere. If you're a speed metal guy or girl, give it a rental before you buy. If you miss the days of classic heavy metal, or grunge, or if you're just a Pantera fan looking for "Vulgar Display of Power" Lite, this one is for you. It might just be me, but it seems like quality metal in this fashion is becoming harder to find, so snap this one up and do yourselves a favor.
One quick note: I had a ridiculous thought the other day that I have to share with somebody. Everyone knows that Ohio State's James Laurinaitis is "Little Animal," the son of Road Warrior Animal from the Legion of Doom. Doesn't James, by fate, have to be drafted by the Green Bay Packers so he can play next to A.J. Hawk? This simply has to happen. Has to. Think of the marketing possibilities.
I don't sleep much, if you couldn't tell.