House of Curses Brings The Power

House of Curses

From a distance, an electric guitar, spiked with middle and harsh treble, is chipping away at the barrier between it and us, desperately trying to get through. A soaring strand of feedback emerges from its churning, reaching towards us with a haunting patience before everything erupts and we’re in the dead center of “Hex’d,” the first track of House of Curses new EP titled simply House of Curses. Evolving under the pressure of modulating vocals that sway like a pendulum between velvet soft melodicism and bruising bellows as deep as a cavern, “Hex’d” clobbers us out of the gate and leaves us vulnerable to the calculated rhythm of “I Do,” which comes seeping through the ashes of its predecessor and quickly drags us asunder for another sensuous dance with the devil.

“I Do” is definitely one of the more streamlined songs that this EP sports, especially in the shadow of the dexterous “8,” which has the same agile bones as some of the brighter gems to emerge from the second wave of metalcore but lacks all of the pretentiousness and veiled ties to emo that thoroughly brought down that scene and all of the artists foolish enough to call it home. Where “I Do” lives and dies by the sword of minimalism, only breaking away from its ethos to splurge on a sulking breakdown, “8” is in love with its own shadow, excessively drawing from the well of its origins and spreading out the grooves as far as they’ll go. The beautiful thing is that both of these concepts end up not only coexisting peacefully, but working well together side-by-side in this record.

The fleeting “Lucky Stars” is a Seattle-style dirge on steroids; despite what you may be expecting from this Alabama-stationed metal band, there isn’t a whiskey-stained southern rock flare to their sound (i.e. Clutch and recent Mastodon), but actually more of a punkish fluidity that has more in common with vintage west coast bands than it does most of their Dixie contemporaries. This doesn’t make House of Curses a throwback band; it makes them delightfully different in a time where metal bands are expected to fall in line and keep up with the few limiting trends dominant within the larger scope of their scene. Unfortunately for the establishment and the sycophants who give it any sort of credibility, House of Curses isn’t playing by the rules as they’ve been told to them – they’re carving out their own path.

Slickly arranged but nevertheless spewing as many sparks as its counterparts do, the acerbic “Bounce House” provides a more mainstream sound to round out the profile of House of Curses before allowing the band to get crazy one more time with “Cut All Ties.” Designed as a mighty elegy with a tad more oomph than one would be anticipating, “Cut All Ties” brings the record to a pointed conclusion and imparts one final wrecking-ball riff to us before falling silent and leaving a tremendous void behind. Top to bottom and front to back, House of Curses’ self-titled EP is going to shake and quake you to the very core. If you just so happen to be the kind of music enthusiast who can’t get enough of that feeling, this is one record you’re not going to want to miss out on.

Scottie Carlito

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