Curse the Son hail from Hamden, Connecticut and have, since their formation, built themselves quite a respectable reputation for producing superb riff heavy rock music tinted with elements of doom, grunge and old school metal. The band have over their time released some excellent albums and EP's to cement that reputation but have not really come up with that career defining album that could propel them into the next league, (although they came damn close with 2017's "Isolator"), until now.
In Desert Psychlist's humble opinion the bands latest release, the first with new drummer Robert Ives, is their best to date and is the one that could break this band to a much wider international audience, so strap yourselves in and move away from anything breakable because here comes "Excruciation" (Ripple Music).
Whether the arrival of Robert Ives on percussion duties has been the catalyst which has driven Ron Vanacore (vocals/guitars) and Brendan Keefe (bass, guitars) to up their game,both as musicians and writers, is something you will have to ask them but it seems, to Desert Psychlist's riff battered ears, that "Excruciation" possess a lot more musicality, depth and diversity than the bands previous outings. Having said that "Excruciation" is not an album bereft of those crunching guitar riffs and thunderous grooves we have all come to expect from a Curse the Son release it is just that here they are a lot more measured and balanced out and not always the dominant force behind each song. Of course if you want your existing fans to get on board with your new album it makes sense to kick it off with something that retains an essence of what brought them to your flag in the first place and the excellently titled "Suicide by Drummer" does that perfectly, its strident groove, Sabbath-esque riffs and vocal similarities ensuring that anyone with even the remotest interest in the band are going to stick around until the album closes. What might not be picked up on immediately, but is sure to be later, are the subtle shades and nuances the band bring into play in and around songs two main refrains with spacey swirls, monastic backing harmonies and droning effects all playing their part in taking the song to an altogether other level of good. "Disaster in Denial" is next and is built around a series of rotating riffs that constantly circles around each other while Vanacore tells us in tones clean and strong of queens impossible to please and an air filled with toxic words. With the old fans happy that Curse the Son have not lost any of their doomic "mojo" the band make their move to convert those same fans to their newer more expansive sound with "Novembre" a song that begins with Keefe laying down a warm, deeply seductive, bass motif over which reverberating arpeggios and shimmering percussion build a dark brooding mood made even more atmospheric thanks to the songs semi narrated, semi sang vocal and its hazy backing melodies (producer Eric Lichter helps out on vocals throughout the album as well as supplying additional instrumentation). The temperature is raised a few notches with next track "Worry Garden" a song that finds CtS bringing a little alt-rock/grunginess to the table while title track "Excruciation" brings things way down and sees the band mixing that grunginess with a little melancholic doominess and dramatic post-rock texturing before closing out on a militaristic drum tattoo. "Infinite Regression" follows, a brief riff heavy, mid tempo stoner doomic romp complete with a pleasing Alice In Chains(ish) slurred refrain that is pushed hard by Ives solid, busy percussion and Keefe's growling bass. Next track up is "Black Box Warning" a song that begins with a vocal hard not to compare with that of the sadly departed Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), a vocal racked with emotional gravitas perfectly framed by the dank, dark grooves it is surrounded by, a sort of torch song for the depressed and disconnected among us. The band look to the delta tor the albums final two musical forays, the first a down home country blues holler backed by some exquisite slide guitar, the second a blues rock workout with rock god vocals and an old school classic rock undercurrent.
"Klonopain", "Psychache" and "Isolator" are three very heavy, very good and highly regarded albums that have all played their part in getting Curse the Son to where they are today, yet despite the esteem the band are held in that "killer" album, able to propel them into the undergrounds upper echelon, has eluded them. With "Excruciation" Curse the Son have finally found their "Led Zeppelin IV", their "Master of Reality" they have created an album that defines not only their place in alternative rock history today but one that, hopefully, also cements their place in its future.
Check it out …
© 2020 Frazer Jones