i am a curse – prequel for an unforgiving wreckage: barren lands LP
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Lying somewhere in that vague realm where hardcore and screamo and most other genres dark and angry converge, I Am A Curse is four piece band from France that takes note all of their influences to craft a respectable debut.
Taking cues from the early 00’s french screamo of bands like Mihai Edrisch and the dark hardcore of contemporaries like Birds In Row, I Am A Curse form their core sound with much distortion, much yelling, and lots of Envy-esque builds. The rather tried-and-true formula of screamo chaos and post rock beauty is done effectively here and with enough variation to avoid becoming too homogeneous. That said, despite good execution, this album does little to differentiate itself too greatly from its influences. Pieces of the past shine through and the impact of bands like Envy are evident. But goddamn does I Am A Curse do a good job tracing the footsteps of their predecessors! Equal parts angry and epic, I Am A Curse tread confidently down a well worn path and once in the midst of their assualt, its easy to forget the familiarity of it all.
Starting with a lone guitar playing simple strummed chords as another jitters about in ambient fashion, the album begins on a slow note. These introductory meanderings last for quite bit longer than necessary, and unfortunately reappear several times throughout the album in one shape or another. While not outright bad, these moments of sparsity lack enough variation or build to be worth their repeated inclusion. Thankfully, they are wonderfully made up for the by the bulk of the album’s more hard-hitting material. The first track, ‘And The Red Shall Disappear First…’, moves from the previously mentioned low key guitar work to the effective screamo/post rock mix that sets forth the standard for the album. Passionate mid-range yells and simple but effective playing dominates, more Embrace than Hot Cross. The next two tracks (‘The Lighthouse’ and ‘The Wreck’) are pretty straight forward affairs, with ‘The Lighthouse’ ending on a particularly high note. ‘The Open Sea’ is the outlier on the album, being mostly sung cleanly and altogether a less aggressive affair. This track is also the most engaging, with probably the strongest singing and songwriting showcased here. The final track, ‘An Unspoken Drift From Scylla to Charybdis’, sees a return of the lone guitar work and not much else, ending the album on a sadly subdued note.
Production throughout is fair but unremarkable, though everything is mixed well. Its especially nice to hear the bass prominently, though it sticks to playing root notes for the most part. Everyone’s playing is certainly adept and more focused on playing for the team than standing out. Lyrically, the album sets forth a story I’m not exactly able to entirely grasp, but certainly seems to pertain to the tragic journey of Odysseus (the final song title being a strong indicator along with several lines that are in direct reference to his story). There is also heavy use of christian imagery along with that of the sea and doomed voyage. The lyrics are rather vague, but well written and certainly manage to convey the emotion brought out in the music.
While executed well and entertaining, I Am A Curse never really bring anything new to the table. The album is also rather short, with a fair amount of time being spent on aimless guitar wanderings instead of what they do best. Regardless, this is an excellent starting point and hopefully the band will continue to grow and expand on their strengths.