Black Curse – Endless Wound Review

I’ll be real with you people: I have never struggled so much with writing an introduction than with this review. I drafted some tripe about how supergroups rarely live up to expectations. I considered delving into how needless technicality dilutes death metal’s viscerally appealing dumbness. I even toyed with an abysmal “So members of Khemmis, Blood Incantation, Primitive Man, and Spectral Voice walk into a bar” joke. And yeah, representatives of those bands are all here, but Black Curse does not sound like whatever pie-in-the-sky genre meld you’d think of when hearing their names. Endless Wound is so singular in its focus, so confident in its ability to do one thing extremely fucking well, that any convoluted preamble would be far too indulgent. So, convoluted, indulgent preamble aside, I will simply say this: Endless Wound feels like a future death metal classic.

While the main bands of Black Curse‘s members live on the bleeding edge of their respective genres, Endless Wound hardly sounds like any of them. Considering that Black Curse was conceived in 2015 before those bands gained prominence (save perhaps Primitive Man), this shouldn’t be a surprise. What you can expect, then, is fiery, chaotic death metal akin to Teitanblood, weighted with the cavernous heaviness of Incantation and shot through with Darkthrone‘s punky black metal spirit. Endless Wound feels utterly old school thanks to its laser focus on defining this simple formula, which is so thoroughly effective as to nullify any desire for variety. Instead, the listener is immediately swept up in a maelstrom of foreboding riffage, bludgeoning drumwork, and devastating tempo changes, never to be seen again.

Those tempo changes are vital components in making Endless Wound such a compelling work of death metal. Whenever the instruments drop out to clear the way for an incoming monster riff, it forms a palpable atmosphere of anticipation—and when the drums kick back into action, it hits with a face-smashing gravitational force. Thankfully, those transitions are no mere substitutes for strong songwriting, as Black Curse takes care to reprise and modify themes so as not to lose the plot. “Enraptured by Decay” is particularly proficient in this regard, as it effortlessly slaloms between plodding doom and blistering blastbeat sections. The compositional integrity only breaks at the tail end of conclusory cut “Finality I Behold,” which closes Endless Wound with a tangential salvo of squealing guitar solos amid a blackened, mid-paced backdrop. Yet this cooldown period feels vital, considering the rest of the track that precedes it makes for the record’s most gloriously cacophonic endurance test.

Black Curse’s talent set is a given when considering the members’ roles in their main projects, and though they perfectly fall in place within this new context, the instrumental assignments defy expectations. Jonathan Campos (Primitive Man) trades in his his typically plodding bass lines for surprisingly frenetic six-stringed riffage, while Zach Coleman’s (Khemmis) trademark drum grooves are abandoned in favor of an unprecedented blast fest. Of equal importance is Black Curse’s secret fifth member: Arthur Rizk. His involvement in recording, mixing, and mastering Endless Wound has resulted in one of the most distinct sounding death metal records of recent times, delivering punishingly blunt drum tones and the perfect amount of guitar and vocal reverb to craft the sonic embodiment of controlled chaos. And those vocals, courtesy of Spectral Voice’s Eli Wendler, are completely fucking gripping. From his bloody gutturals to his unhinged shrieks, Wendler has here delivered one of the single most impressive showings of harsh vocal talent I’ve heard in… well, probably ever.

I’m certain that everything you just read smells like an enormous load of steaming hyperbole, and admittedly it took several spins of Endless Wound to achieve my current state of unfiltered zealotry. Once the nuances of what Black Curse achieved here fully sunk in, however, there was no denying it: Endless Wound is essential death metal. This debut reaffirms that singularly punishing death metal can still make waves in the genre, and from the deliciously hellish lead guitar work to the wildly entertaining vocal turns, it is stuffed with the kind of goosebump-inducing moments that define records which I consider to be timeless. Who knows in which new directions this coming decade’s versions of Ulcerate or Horrendous will innovate the genre, but to remain forever relevant, all Black Curse will ever need to be is Black Curse.

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Sepulchral Voice Records | Bandcamp
Releases Worldwide: April 2nd, 20201

Show 1 footnote

  1. Sorry for the late review on this one, folks. Our promo kit cited an April 24th release date, which in fact is still listed on the album’s Bandcamp page as of the time of this writing, but it surprise dropped far in advance.
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