Bulging basslines that know no boundaries skew drumming that gallops out of hell and ends up stampeding straight back, only to leave the earth scorched in the wake. Guitars duel with guttural vocals that are only a stone’s throw away from gilded harmonic singing that seems to echo long into infinity. The crunch of brilliantly overdriven amplifiers, daring to war with the pulsating grooves radiating from a drum kit that is even bigger than some of the riffs attacking its existence are. These sounds and more await anyone who gives the songs “Hex’d,” “8,” “Cut All Ties,” or really any of House of Curses’ brand new namesake EP a spin. The Decatur, Alabama metal crew discharge fire and fury through six tracks that test the limits of rock but never drift from a sharp edged tone that is truly their own (not to mention utterly hook-laden). House of Curses, whose presence in the American underground has been creating a lot of buzz lately, prove that heavy metal is far from an afterthought in 2019, even if it’s left of the dial-existence has fostered a newfound depth of dissonance that is much more severe and volatile than anything their forerunners were able to conjure up.
These guys are very careful not to get too overindulgent with their music in this record; musically, lyrically and even within the production itself, there’s not a lot of extras or frills added to the finished product. For the most part, this sound is straight up organic, making most of the natural studio acoustics afforded to the band and simply frothing at the mouth with a bass-heavy richness that adds surrealism to the pace every time. It’s not that the bottom end is slowing these tracks down – nothing could be further from the truth in bits like “I Do,” “Bounce House” and “Lucky Stars” – but rather that it makes every one of these songs feel so much more hulking and oversized than they would be otherwise. House of Curses doesn’t have to try exceptionally hard to drop the hammer on us with impunity; the tunes that they write seem to already arrive at the studio ready to break through brick walls and shatter glass without ever missing a beat or skipping a solo.
Metalheads will definitely want to secure themselves a copy of House of Curses’ eponymous extended play, which is garnering acclaim outside of the insular heavy metal community and somehow even capturing the attention of a handful of eyes in the mainstream as well. It’s not all that hard to understand why – this EP is riddled with so much immense sonic sophistication, and despite its short running time delivers pretty much everything that listeners would want out of a full length album from the group, sans additional camp, bells and whistles or arguably pointless intro/outro tracks (which pretty much amount to filler at the end of the day). Only time will tell, but I’ve got a gut feeling that this is just the beginning of House of Curses’ professional odyssey, and with the right platform to reach their target audience, there’s no question that they have the potential to make a serious impact with this initial offering alone.