(Andy Synn presents his thoughts on the new album from Cursebinder, out Friday on Avantgarde Music)
First things first, I’d like it to be noted that Cursebinder is a truly excellent band name.
Of course, the… ahem… curse of having such a good moniker like that is that you really have to live up to it, musically speaking. And if you don’t, well… you’re going to hear about it.
Thankfully, however, the band’s captivating concoction of pristine blackened power, dream-like melody, and doom-laden melancholy proves to be more of a blessing than a curse, and fans of of the introspective intensity of Der Weg Einer Freiheit or the darkly melodic majesty of Claret Ash in particular would do well to invite Drifting into their lives.
Musically-speaking the Polish quartet clearly have a preference for intricate, flowing arrangements of elements – utilising shimmering synths and eerie melodic leads to add extra layers of depth and intrigue to their seething riffs and dynamic drum work – and aren’t afraid to let things play out organically for as long as the song’s require in order to reach their full potential (with four of the album’s eight tracks clocking in at over six minutes, and only one – instrumental interlude “Can They Hear Me” – coming in at under four).
They wisely resist the urge to simply pack as many different, dissident ideas into each cut as possible, however, and instead tend to focus on evolving and expanding on key themes – the central melodic thread of opener “Affected By Panic”, for example, continues to recur throughout the track in subtly different forms, while the constantly increasing heaviness during “Becoming” is a masterclass in how to slowly build both tension and intensity at the same time – which, once identified, should help the listener unlock the full potential of the band’s intricately arranged approach to (Post-) Black Metal.
That’s not to say, of course, that they’re totally averse to simply letting loose when they choose to – “Shred By Shred”, for example, is four minutes of punchy, propulsive rhythms and rippling riffs whose soul purpose seems to be to get your blood pumping throughout, while even the most morose and atmospherics parts of the album (such as gloomy penultimate track “Every Tree A Sanctuary”) practically crackle with electrifying energy – but the overriding impression one is left with, once the climactic strains of “Permeating the Undergrowth” finally fade into nothingness, is of a band with greater, higher aspirations than simply being just another footnote in the fiery annals of Black Metal history.
Only time will tell, of course, if Cursebinder are ever able to achieve such lofty ambitions, but there’s no denying that Drifting represents a firm foundation on which to build that future, and leaves open a world of possibilities for the band to explore in the years to come.