Review Summary: PARTY TANK! BITCHES RIDE FOR FREE.
There's a long list of bands who tour and record relentlessly, and within that list, a few bands that most assume will just never, ever stop - bands that are so dedicated to their craft, so intensely enmeshed in what they do that to quit would seem almost preposterous and even antithetical. Cursed was one of those bands, seemingly one of the hardiest of the bunch, yet by now everyone has heard the story of Cursed's demise; a highly sketchy robbery on the very last day of their European tour was likened by vocalist Chris Colohan to "a bullet in the head." Cursed was done, but not before leaving behind one final brutal statement of anti-everything in the form of III: Architects of Troubled Sleep.
Cursed is at their heaviest on this album, taking the sludgy hints of I and II to a new level by slowing down the tempo, adding more layers, and concocting a sound that's unrelentingly intense. The one-two punch of the atmospheric title track and "Night Terrors" pays tribute to the band's first two albums, displaying both their love of samples and crusty hardcore, but after those songs, Cursed begins to display the nuances of their refined sound. "Magic Fingers" slows thing down ever so slightly, just enough to allow listeners to groove without their bones cracking, which is actually a fitting description for the sound that Cursed incorporated on III: they went from bone-cracking to bone-crushing, a seemingly subtle change in words that carries a lot of weight in today's musical trends. Lately metal as a whole has started to slow down; post metal is rapidly becoming one of the underground's most popular movements, but the fact that Cursed took influence from that genre doesn't mean that they were emulating other bands, just that they were cherry-picking the best parts of that genre and fusing it with their traditional sound to create something entirely their own. It was a smart move, considering that Cursed manages to sound even more pissed-off here than they did on their first two records.
Like the best of the sludge bands, Cursed learned that creating a heavier sound isn't merely about guitar riffs; it's about guitar tone. III sports some of the best guitar tones heard in recent memory, with a perfect mix of reverb and distortion. Channeled through that tone, the riffs on this album bring to mind Harvey Milk if they were as angry as they are satirical and self-aware. All of Cursed's musicians were able to lock into an amazing groove on this album, sometimes slowing the pace of the music to tempos seemingly unheard of for Cursed. Chris Colohan's throaty scream is more versatile than it was on I and II; at times he even half-sings his misanthrophic lyrics. "Friends in the Music Business" is his best performance both vocally and lyrically, as he menacingly yells "I don't want to bite the hand that feeds, I want to fu
cking break it off," enhanced by a sliding buzzsaw bass riff, and the outro of "Don't call me, I won't call you" is one of 2008's most memorable moments.
III: Architects of Troubled Sleep somehow sounds better after the fact of Cursed's breakup. It's the album of a band that impossibly seemed to sense their own impending end and accordingly lashed out spasmodically at everyone and everything in their path. In the liner notes, after the band members and recording information are listed, a simple inscription was written almost prophetically, a fitting eulogy to be chiseled onto the headstone of one of music's hardest working bands:
"Goodbye Cruel World."