Review Summary: Progressive rock that does a lot of progressing but doesn't progress far enough to be called brilliant.
The local Australian circuit has been kind to Cursed Legacy, a mysterious project and group that has taken every element of bands like Coheed, Anathema, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis and Dream Theater and softened it whilst increasing the concept and call-back of the progressive rock genre. With their first release "Death of a Hero" fetching a modest amount of attention in 2008 and their grungier darker album "The Encounter I" taking the band into what one would only assume as a new and permanent direction, their latest offering is surprisingly stripped bare with the evidence that this is either a band that knows what their sound is but will string its dynamic fan base along or it's one that has yet to decide what it truly wants to be. Either way this is another album from a decent variety of who deserve the title "experimental".
Tortured by Remorse is a mostly piano-led album that doesn't contain its predecessor’s screams or musical variety but succeeds at what it attempts: to give the listener a turbulent and emotion provoking experience. From its creepy old-time radio introduction (Professional Help) to its dark cabaret opener “Welcome In” all the way to its finale “Retributions” – Tortured by Remorse is a release that is solid and consistent but not without fault.
The concept of the record is loosely associated with the band's debut "Death of a Hero". The lyrics detail a tale of confusion and deception when the title character (who I'd personally assume is a war 'hero') kills his beloved wife - the only person to have ever understood his mental deterioration and his split personality - and then lives to regret everything he has done for her. Noticing the lyrical hints at fighting an imaginary war and struggling to deal with his fear of time, the listener is taken on quite a journey.
As hinted in the previous paragraph, this album requires quite a bit of assumption. There's no outlining of exactly what the album is about. This adds to the mystery of the music as it requires a little guesswork during the course of the 40~ minute record. Their previous album "The Encounter" had a straightforward storyline about alien abduction and the trauma the main character had faced and very little [for lack of a better word] progression other than "they basically probed me in my naughty area".
With the epic track "Take me to the River" in which the orchestration and composition may be the most complex that Cursed Legacy has ever achieved in their six years as a group, it's somewhat sad that the next part of my review is true: lack of production quality.
The sound that Cursed Legacy gave in their more polished release "The Encounter" wasn't exactly flawless but it was a little higher in production than Tortured. Being a relatively cult band without the backing of a record label or financial support certainly gives albums like these a bit of a weak point. There are no issues with the mixing or production of the album per se; just a noticeable decline in the ‘fullness’ of the tracks. This album was most likely recorded in a low-budget home studio environment with little input from instrumentalists featured which gives it the sense of being rushed – an opinion that is discernibly unmistakable throughout.
I can’t help but feel as though this is the album that could have been. It’s short and lacking, yet it’s beautifully written and could have been recorded as a musical much like Jeff Wayne or Rick Wakeman’s ventures. Instead, you’re left wanting more and expecting a huge climax from an album that is suffering from the lack of power and motivation. A great effort for Cursed Legacy but far from being the album that will expose them to the fans they are attempting to gain.