REVIEW: BLESSED CURSE – “Beware of the Night” [EP]
One of the most enjoyable aspects for me as a Metalhead is the sense of excitement when I stumble across an unknown band lurking in the depths of the Underground. It is also something that eats up most of my time online. So when I came across this old school Thrash Metal band called Blessed Curse, I felt a familiar tingle inside me which was frankly, very difficult to contain.
Blessed Curse are a band from Northern California who were previously known as Devastator, but changed their name due to several bands naming themselves with the same name. I would say it was a great decision because even when I searched for them, I had a tough time uncovering them. Funnily enough, they were called Atrosity before Devastator and changed their name to the latter for the exact same reason. Anyways, as Blessed Curse, I think they have carved out a unique identity for themselves; name wise, at least.
Blessed Curse have so far released one full length album in 2012 and are about to release an EP titled ‘Beware of the Night’ via M-Theory Audio. The album artwork is designed by Stone Design’s Brian Lewis (DevilDriver, Black Label Society) where he paints a snarling werewolf amidst a silhouette of a forest, mirroring the theme the band follows on this EP. In fact, their debut album’s artwork too paints a werewolf in the middle of the transformation. Maybe I am reading too much into it but it feels as if the artwork on ‘Beware of the Night’ signifies the completion of this transformation.
The EP has five tracks and measures a little over 27 minutes. The band preserves their old school sound overall and picks up right where their debut album left off. The band kicks off with “Faster Than Hell”, a straight up classic Thrash anthem reminding you of the Bay Area bands, but then as the vocals kick in, you get a distinct flavor of the Teutonic Thrash Metal bands of the 80s. So if you are an old school metalhead like me, you would be kicked into nostalgia and are sure to raise those metal horns up. The follow up track “Berserker” takes down the speed a notch but trades it in with the groove. Drummer Derek Bean‘s supremely crispy work stands out on the track and so does Tyler Satterlee‘s snarling vocals on the chorus. In fact the whole band comes alive with each element taking turns to be at the forefront, whether its the hard-hitting groove laden rhythm or the barking vocals or the screeching solos. Newcomer Dan Keenan‘s bass work is enjoyable and well heard in the mix, amplifying the groove and percussive sound of the band.
I felt Blessed Curse‘s performance on this record is a slightly more polished version as compared to their debut effort and I would place it higher than their debut. However, some fans may argue about the raw aggression of the debut being better. Either ways, I wouldn’t shy away from saying that the band maintains their integrity and the core strengths they possess and manage to put in a slightly more evolved version of themselves on this album. I doubt they will lose any of their older fan base due to this transformation.
Like their debut, the songs on this EP too are slightly lengthier if we compare them to other songs in this genre. The band does not shy away from crossing the 5 minute mark on occasions with the longest one being close to 8 minute opus titled “Call Upon the One”. This track provides several tempo changes a distinct departure from the typical Thrash Metal formula, but somehow does not really take off. The riffs and the song structure seems to repeat itself and I feel if they had to just repeat those sections again, might as well make it shorter. It does have a progressive tinge to it but does not have enough variation or firepower to make it work.
To summarize, Blessed Curse have put out an enjoyable EP that gives us a preview of their next album. They maintain their trademark sound and throw their punches with aggression. There is nothing that will really surprise you on this EP. It is a straight up classic old school Thrash Metal EP that promises a good time even with minor flaws and stereotypical characteristics of the genre.