Much in the way that the hair bands of the 80's and 90's were pigeonholed and stereotyped, so are the stoner doom bands of the new millennium. The difference, of course, being that the big hair, lipstick, and fishnets stockings worn by those oft dismissed bands of yesteryear managed to disqualify them from any conversation about true talent and foresight. Things have changed, albeit in small ways. Everyone thinks they know what stoner metal is all about, and we judge it by the tag alone. but much like the other blooming genres, there are many intricacies that fall under that same umbrella. Curse The Son, a three piece band from Hamden, Connecticut, are all about the small things. Whether it be there obvious influences, their ominous artwork, or just the lues infused riffs and vocals that put onto recorded media, they are doing things slightly different from their contemporaries. And, as a result, they have recorded one of the best albums of the year, with "Psychache."
There is no hiding a riff this thick, as guitarist Ron Vanacore makes known very early on in "Goodbye Henry Anslinger." How they manage to bring out the inner melody in an instrumental so down tuned is anybody's guess, but they do it beyond expectation. It is the vocals, also provided by Vanacore, that catch you completely off guard. His voice is unlike any you've heard recently, a melodic cry that seems contrary to the distortion that it accompanies. The two come together brilliantly, setting the bar high for the rest of the album. Thankfully, there is no letdown to be found here or anywhere else. rather than hide or mask their love of all things stoner metal, they display it openly on tracks like "Spider Stole The Weed." This is showcase piece for the rhythm section, with bassist Cheech Weeden and drummer Michael Petrucci further bolstering the low end. As they bring the sound wave down to new lows, they also bring the tempo down with it. But it isn't hard to pick out the noticeable and just as easily repeated groove. That theme, the undeniable groove, permeates the entire disc; forcefully at first, more subtly on songs like "Psychache." And despite being far more aggressive, it leaves so much for your mind to piece together. The last thirty seconds alone could be on mental repeat for days.
In a daring change of pace, "Valium For?" is a different kind of interlude track, one that builds from whisper quite riffs to a blasting mountain of guitars, bass and drums, if only for a second, before fading back into the silence from whence it came. But when your haunted house goes up a few days from now, it is "Somatizator" that will be your theme song. It embodies something eerie and sinister, something counteracted by Vanacore's signature voice. But when the entire thing spins to a halt halfway through, it wouldn't be far fetched to see an axe wielding murdered appear from the smokey haze. Coupled with the album cover, and this could be the song nightmares are truly made of. The lyrics indicate as much, as Vanacore croons, "this is where the nightmares go, they find you when you're all alone." No amount of bluesy, stoner doom riffing will make that chill go away. Even as it fades, and "The Negative Ion" begins, the hair on your arms won't go down quite so easily. It wouldn't be a stretch to call this final monster one of the best tracks of the year, despite it's simplicity, simply because it infects you. The buzzing distortion, the effects laden main riff, it all fills your brain with smoke.
We talk so much about the small things that take an album from good to great. Bands that can get a grasp on those minor details can easily separate themselves from those who can't; thankfully, the cream always rises to the top. Curse The Son, at first glance, or even first listen, might not seem like they have a great deal to pick apart and appreciate; one supporter on their Bandcamp page summed it up best in saying, "I saw this album months ago, I was like eeeck! and passed it up." That reaction probably isn't isolated to one person, or even ten. But if you can get by that initial snap judgment and just hit play, it will be more than worth the chance. One track in, you'll be happy you went for it. Two tracks in, and you'll be willing to throw them a couple bucks for it. By the time the album ends, you might not want to stop. Yes, "Psychache" really is that good. The cover art may look like a dvilish figure chasing you away. But hidden behind that artwork is an album that could quite possibly blow you away in a cloud of smoke.
Bandcamp - http://cursetheson.bandcamp.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/cursetheson