Ten years ago, Canadian punk band Cursed released their second album, ‘Two’, a frantic assault on the senses that floored hardcore kids and music critics around the world. In this one release, the Ontario quintet managed to out-crust, out-punk, out- metal, and outsmart every one of their peers. Vocalist Chris Colohan’s astute yet disconcertingly sinister lyrical style ensured that this album would become one of the most impressive modern hardcore records ever released.
Musically, Two showcases a dynamic blend of foreboding sludge metal and hostile grindcore that tip-toes around the fringes of punk rock. The opening track, Intro/Fatalist, perfectly demonstrates how these traits combine to create Cursed’s unique yet cohesive sound. The opening wall of feedback engulfs the speakers and eventually a slow chugging guitar cuts through the noise. They build menacingly, poised to rip your face clean off just before the rapid-fire drum fill signals the sonic onslaught and the whole band burst into life. The production is raw and invasive, guitars snap out at you and Colohan’s deathly screams sound like they’ve been ripped through a grinder.
What really sets this album apart is the superior level of songwriting compared to that of other hardcore bands. For a band so hellbent on being ferocious and unforgiving, after just a few listens it’s hard to get the songs out of your head. With its second track, Reparations there are glimpses of melody when Colohan switches from screaming to crooning, “I don’t feel about your loss and my place in it”. Christian McMaster and Radwan Moumneh’s guitars are pure evil but effectively memorable, exchanging cleanly strummed chords for bellowing low drones before breaking into the fast metal thrash stylings of bands like Converge.
Most of the record is a cacophony of blast beats and angular guitars, but more atmospheric moments appear from the milieu, helping to paint Cursed’s bleak scenery. Brooding instrumental Two fits right into the depressive musical landscape with sombre guitars and a haunting piano line. Model Home Invasion takes the pace down a notch with some Black Sabbath-esque stoner riffage that lasts seven minutes. The final track Outro returns to the album’s opening refrain, but this time heard on violins backed with the sound of distant rain. The cinematic climax to the album ties in with the horror movie aesthetic that Chris Colohan created for the artwork. All these different elements make Two a dark yet powerful record.
In keeping with the unearthly mystique garnered by the band, Cursed’s break up in 2008 was cloaked in shadowy controversy. Whilst on tour in Europe, the Canadian punk rockers had their money and passports stolen in the night. What made this particularly unusual is that the incident happened right under their noses while they were sleeping in a room locked from the inside. At that point the band members went their separate ways. Chris Colohan is still prominent in the DIY scene, singing for hardcore band Burning Love and running the strictly vinyl label High Anxiety Records.