Cursed Excruciation – Arcane Diabolism Review

Last time we met Cursed Excruciation, we were smack-talking sole member Trance of the Undead for his creatively titled main project Trance of the Undead. Blackened death to the core, it boasted just enough tasty dungeon synth-inspired keyboard abuse to add a flavor of old-school kvltness. On paper, it all sounded great; the problem was it just wasn’t, uh, good. Lack of variety met monotonous guitar tone with the same riff repeating ad nauseam for seven tracks. Aside from a serious bite that initially hit like a crowbar to the knees, the hype very quickly died out.

Well, imagine if Trance of the Undead thought brutality was soooo last week, removing all teeth and energy in favor of something sounding “ominous.” Let me introduce you to Cursed Excruciation. All of the signature Trance of the Undead moves are there: ghostly atmosphere, blackened reverb-laden shrieks, shreddy riffs, and occult-themed pummel. The issue is that any redeeming qualities of its former incarnation is removed in favor of weak riffs with embarrassingly forward, enthusiastically delivered black metal vocals. In trve fashion, the diabolism feels more excruciating while the tired tricks seem unforgivably arcane.

Across forty-four minutes of unspectacular to outright boring blackened death, the only track that contains any semblance of memorability is “Daughters of Nyx,” which features a tasteful little death/doom groove before beating it to death for a six-minute runtime. To his credit, Trance of the Undead does a good job balancing the worst of black and death metal like that of his main project. The guitar tone features a dense yet scathing tone that carries weight and aptly shreds, while its keyboard presence provides ghostly tendrils of icy melody.

It’s just a goddamn shame that Arcane Diabolism offers no songwriting chops and does nothing with its otherwise tolerable potential. Cursed Excruciation dwells in mid-tempo riffs, caught like toilet paper in the odorous perineum between death/doom and blackened death that commits to neither. While poor songwriting was masked by blasting intensity in Chalice of Disease, our bud Trance of the Undead removes all facades of quality by slowing down the tempo and putting its vocal attack more front and center, central riffs furthermore becoming the only riffs for six-minute-plus runtimes. As such, it is nearly impossible to discern between tracks; for instance, “Initiation” and “The Sorcerer of Antioch” feature the same minor progression, while the tremolo of “Beast of Fire” sounds identical to “Goetic Glorification.” Chord progressions are drilled into the brain in the worst ways, a scorching headache rather than a metallic earworm, as any and all chords, melodies, and progressions are beaten to death with no variation. The vocal performance, in spite of Trance of the Undead’s versatility, feels raw in an embarrassing fashion. With Trance of the Undead, like its weak songwriting, the vocals were buried behind a blasting intensity that at least sounded tolerable. Cursed Excruciation strips the instrumentation, revealing an embarrassingly enthusiastic performance in the name of kvlt kred, hitting rock bottom in protracted excursions of eight-minutes-plus in “Initiation” and “Black Altar Sacrifice.” To add insult to injury, the bookend intro “The Call” and outro “The Rapture” are painful excursions of cringeworthy vocals and droning dungeon synth sprawls.

While the sonic palette could ideally work in the same way that Trance of the Undead worked sorta worked remained tolerable, Cursed Excruciation is far too similar for its own good, while somehow being way worse. While its mother project did a decent job masking bad songwriting with blackened death intensity, Arcane Diabolism reveals all its flaws with an unflinching stare.1 Foregoing on any semblance of brutality entirely, Trance of the Undead’s biggest flaw is that Cursed Excruciation is stuck between being a bad knockoff of his main project and offering the most uneventful blackened death metal on the planet. In the name of poorly executed menace, its offensively boring debut overstays its welcome with embarrassing kvlt enthusiasm with nothing to back it. I wasn’t hoping to start 2023 with something this cursed and excruciating, but here we are.

Rating: 0.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Releases Worldwide: January 13th, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. The kind from the neckbeard across the cafeteria in tenth grade.
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