Review: “The Deathbed Sessions” by Cursed Earth

Having parted ways with original vocalist Jazmine Luders, Perth Australia’s Cursed Earth have taken the path that a small number of other bands (Snot, Biohazard) have taken and enlisted the help of no less than eight guest vocalists to appear on this new album. Perhaps surprisingly, they have included not only appearances from their friends but also of their peers and potential tour mates. It’s been two years since the wonderfully bleak “Cycles  Of  Grief” and the Perth Western Australia natives are finally back.

A short atmospheric burst before the running of marching boots brings in “Fear” that sees Matt Honeycutt of Kublai Khan lend his throat to proceedings. A Metallic Hardcore breakdown laiden track with a smattering of Black Metal influence, it’s a punishingly good tune to get the heads banging from the very start. It may even be an indicator of the direction that Kublai Khan take themselves on the follow up the “Nomad”. Next up is “Rock Bottom” which continues that high energy Metallic Hardcore approach with a Knocked Loose esq element in the riff step down that appears a couple of times in the opening attack. Justice For The Damned vocalist Nick Adams puts in a throat shredding turn at the Microphone while the band thunder through with a backdrop of music that shines quality. Driven riffs bounce off the walls while in the back end they break them up with some quirks appear at each break. It would make for a decent album closer as it has that element of fun in the mix despite being a bruiser of a tune. Almost title track “Deathbed” sees the dual heard hydra of Booka Nile and Sean Harmanis of Make Them Suffer appear for what is a more pounding and atmospheric affair. The feminine vocals add a PJ Harvey esq sultry ache to proceedings while the savage uncleans add the polar opposite contrast. Musically sinister and biting like a dog growling at you from the corner, it’s a welcome turn from the opening pair of structurally more straight up tunes.

Given the output of The Amity Affliction lately, Joel Birch appearing on this album was a real eyebrow raiser. But for an 82 second burst of furious Hardcore infused Metal at blistering pace layerer up with blast beats, he provides the uncleans that are needed. So much so in fact, you could be forgiven for thinking it was someone else. “Tyranny Forever” sees our very own Larissa Stupar of Venom Prison get her turn with the light and having a lot in common with what Cursed Earth stand for and indeed with Jazmine Luders, it’s another really obvious choice for a guest. What Cursed Earth do as a band is change things up to suit the vocalist in terms of pacing and spacing their elements out to give the lyrics space to breathe. The intensity of the lyrical content is matched by the vocalists on each tune with a mastery and Strupar is no different in her performance. As ever, she matches any male vocalist pound for pound in the unclean vocal department and anyone who says that a woman can’t front a Metal band should have their head examined. You could well end up suffering from Shell Shock after hearing this one. Each vocalist spits pure fire over each subject ranging from psychological warfare during the Vietnam War, the Pinjarra Massacre, the Rottnest concentration camp, lobotomy, self destruction, narcissism and the Catholic Church. How much influence the band themselves had over that lyrical content would make for a really interesting “making of” documentary.

“Operation” gives Jack McDonald of Cast Down a chance and slowing things down a notch for some stuccato riffage and a menacing groove with industrial undertones is a move which gives everything a fine balance. When albums like this appear, there is at times a disconnect between songs that sound great individually but don’t work together. Cursed Earth have made sure that doesn’t happen here by knitting things together with their powerful sonics. Mark Poida of Aversions Crown delivers the kind of skull crushing performance he’s been known for over a breakneck speed piece of Metal that deserves to be heard. Blast beats in behind the scream of the song title and including some controlled feedback in the loop with some hunting lead flourish work makes for a fine tune. By the end of the album you simply crave more, and that is a sign of perfection [9/10].
Track listing
  1. Fear ft. Matt Honeycutt of Kublai Khan
  2. Rock Bottom ft. Nick Adams of Justice For The Damned
  3. Deathbed ft. Booka Nile and Sean Harmanis of Make Them Suffer
  4. Torch ft. Joel Birch of The Amity Affliction
  5. Tyranny Forever ft. Larissa Stupar of Venom Prison
  6. Operation ft. Jack McDonald of Cast Down
  7. Burn ft. Mark Poida of Aversions Crown
“The Deathbed Sessions” by Cursed Earth is out now via UNFD

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