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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

The Cursed

Room Full of Sinners

Review by Mike Korn

Imagine it is 2:30 AM on the foggy, clammy streets of a nameless big city. You walk these mean streets restlessly, unable to sleep or sit still. You duck into a dimly lit bar and look around. The smoke-filled room is full of other night crawlers such as yourself. The lights are low and there's a feeling of danger in the air. Your eyes are drawn to the small, dimly lit stage. Suddenly a band strikes up a tune, but instead of the sleazy jazz you were expecting, it's heavy metal...a lowdown, dirty, bluesy kind of metal. You're in a room full of sinners...and the band is The Cursed.

The Cursed is a new proposition featuring some familiar metal faces. Most familiar is singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, the charismatic lead singer of thrash legends Overkill. However, this isn't the Blitz you Overkill fans are used to. Sure, his voice is familiar, but here he stretches it in unfamiliar ways. Blues and jazz seem to be the main influences and Ellsworth often has a kind of grit here that reminds me of a bottom-feeding Louis Armstrong. It's an interesting performance from one of metal's genuine characters. On guitar is Dan Lorenzo, long associated with thrash pioneers Hades as well as the more grungy Non-Fiction. Here Lorenzo grinds out some slow, dirty licks with plenty of heaviness and sleaze - thrash only rarely raises its head. The band is completed by Lorenzo's Non-Fiction ally Mike Cristi on drums and mysterious bass player Job the Raver.

Room Full of Sinners is not a very technical album and most of the music is simply constructed and played. But for those adventurous metalheads who are seeking some smoke-filled ambience in their music, the album is worth checking out.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sweeter
Slow and deadly, this one kind of slinks along like a nasty old alley cat. The vocals are instantly recognizable as Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth but they're a lot grungier and full of a kind of sexual swagger. That tone is matched by Lorenzo's guitar playing, which is heavy but full of bluesy grind. That describes the album in a nutshell.
Evil's In The Bag
The pace picks up here and you can definitely hear a trace of Overkill in the grooving main riff. Ellsworth's vocals here are kind of sly and conspiratorial and the lyrics are full of double entendres. What will really catch you by surprise is the blast of raunchy sax that takes the place of a guitar solo. It fits the tune really well. This is a song I could see getting some airplay, if any radio programmer had the balls to put it in rotation.
Wij Leven Als Gud In Frankrijk
I'm told the title is in Dutch but don't ask me exactly what it means. I do know "Frankrijk" means France. It's a catchy but nervous sounding metal track where Ellsworth's vocals just sound really sick and twisted. "Turn up the ceiling fan!" he yells on the nifty chorus. Ellsworth's odd vocal lines make this cut memorable.
Breaking Her Down
This brief cut growls and roars with the heaviest guitar sound of the album. It's choppy and brutal.
Best of the Worst
This picks up exactly where "Breaking Her Down" leaves off with more mid-paced stomp and grind. The music is simple (many would say too much so) but if you like your metal sleazy, medium speed and thuggish, this should float your boat. Good rhythm work from Cristi and Job helps nail this down. "She's the best of the worst I had!"
Native Tongue
This is the slowest, heaviest and most bass-heavy cut yet. It could almost be described as "blues doom metal.” Check out Ellsworth's super deep and growly vocals on the chorus. They're not deep in a death metal sense, but more like Tom Waits or even Louis Armstrong! He can switch from that grumbly tone to a high pitched shriek to his regular nasal tone in a blink. The Cursed really shows what a charismatic singer he is.
Serpentine Slither
This is really four o'clock in morning kind of music. The bass sounds like a stand-up and it really does kind of slither with a slinky jazz feel. Ellsworth's vocals are a kind of restrained scat style. The track does get heavy but only for a brief time. Lorenzo's guitar solo has a really smoky gin joint tone.
All's Right
By now, the slower metal grooves with a bluesy feel have become a patented Cursed trademark and this song is no different. Parts of this sound really Overkill-ish. An OK tune, this is nothing too outstanding.
One Time
This is in typical Cursed mode, but again Ellsworth alters his vocals to a low-range croon, sounding kind of like Pete Steele from Type O Negative. The guitar sound is a little different, too and the solo sounds like oldschool 70's hard rock, with plenty of wah-wah.
Queen of the Dawn
A swaggering down tuned riff reminiscent of Sabbath's "Children of the Grave" kicks off this tough, mean rocker. This is a hard driving track with more memorable lyrics and vocal lines and another taste of sax to give it flavor. This is one of my favorites of the album.
Generate Her
The opening to this is pure blues with a great sleazy solo by Lorenzo. The tune builds to a fierce stomping metal number that starts off mid-paced and then accelerates to the fastest, thrashiest surge on the CD. You'd have to be dead not to headbang to the second half of this one!
 
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