Album Review: Cursed Earth – The Deathbed Sessions
Cursed Earth’s last album, 2017’s excellent Cycles Of Grief, should have been a ticket to bigger things. An explosion of fierce metallic rage and emotional catharsis, topped with moments of musical ingenuity and unflinching heaviness, it saw the Australian quartet’s name mentioned among bands like Knocked Loose and Turnstile as one of the brightest new lights of modern hardcore. And then the wheels came off, with the sudden departure of fiery singer Jazmine Luders under somewhat acrimonious circumstances throwing the whole enterprise into doubt. So, while The Deathbed Sessions is not a new album from Cursed Earth in the more normal sense of the idea – a mixtape of new songs featuring guest vocals from members of The Amity Affliction, Venom Prison and Aversions Crown among others – it nevertheless marks a welcome sign of life from a killer band who looked to have been cruelly halted in their tracks just as they were breaking into a powerful sprint.
If you like your face where it is, don’t stand too close to your speakers while listening to The Deathbed Sessions. Should this music take on a physical form, it would be violently kicking its way off the CD and into your earholes like a particularly determined prison pugilist. The riffs of opener Fear are simply terrifying, and as you wonder if this level of aggression is really necessary it becomes clear that yes, it is, because anything less would rob this stuff of its heart. Not to mention its big, big fists.
The migraine tension in the music, straight-faced and worryingly aggro, is matched by the performances of each guest vocalist. Amity Affliction frontman Joel Birch’s tirade on Rock Bottom sounds like he’s wringing out his soul and feasting on the resultant bile, while Operation sees Cast Down’s Jack McDonald practically bursting his eyes out with anger. Best of the lot is the abrasive Deathbed, in which Venom Prison’s Larissa Stupar contributes to the scalding, seething anger with a genuinely unnerving performance that gives a heavy impression that, although this is the work of a bunch of mates, neither Cursed Earth nor their collaborators came here to make friends.
Where the next blows will come from remains to be seen. But for now, it’s enough that Cursed Earth have sent into the world such a nasty, brutal update on their status and position. It shows that the band’s creative charge remains high, as does their enviable destructive power, and given that it looked like the game could have been up, such a devastating example of potential for the future – or indeed the confirmation that there’s a future at all – is a very welcome thing indeed.
Guitarist Kieran Molloy discusses The Deathbed Sessions and how Cursed Earth managed to survive with a little help from their friends
In a recent interview, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer recalled the moment he found out John Frusciante was returning to the Chili Peppers.