Brash and brutal riffage of the best kind joins forces with bittersweet, cutting lyrics in House of Curses’ new self-titled extended play, which features six songs furiously delivered at max volume and rife with bold bluster. The Alabama-based band don’t waste a second before laying into a pummeling beat with “Hex’d,” the record’s stunning opening track, which sets up the foundation for all of the mayhem soon to follow. House of Curses aren’t stingy with any element of their sound here, delivering their massive tonality with only a light varnishing of production polish, as to maintain a raw style and energy, engaging listeners on the same level as they would be in a live setting.
The band flirts with blast beats and screamed vocals every now and again in this EP, occasionally spilling out of the stereo with a reckless abandon that makes “I Do” and “Bounce House” feel like hostile entities begging to come undone. It isn’t all grinding metallic grooves though; other tracks like “8” and “Lucky Stars” rely more on textured arrangements and vivid, evocative lyrics to generate a suffocating atmosphere. No matter how they’re coming at us here, House of Curses never softens the blow or tapers their sound to suit the confined space of the studio – with surprisingly palatable results.
This master mix is loaded with a physicality that is hard for a lot of bands to capture without employing external studio augmentation, but the vibe feels completely authentic in every instance presented to us. The breakdown in “Lucky Stars” was designed to soundtrack a vicious circle pit, and if you manage to avoid getting crushed by the assaultive riffs that frame the track’s beat, you might find yourself feeling as exhausted as you would emerging from a high-energy metal show. House of Curses’ formula is a simple one, but it definitely works; stay relentless at the mic and consistent in the rhythm section, and the rigidity of the melodies will take on an exciting life of its own.
I think that the closer “Cut All Ties” and “I Do” summarize the sonic depth of this unit better than any other tracks on the record. With “Cut All Ties,” we get a pretty good idea how intense the band can get musically while staying in relatively melodic territory. In “I Do,” House of Curses gives it to us all at once, and not only do they hold the cohesiveness of the composition together, they manage to sound even tighter as the song presses on. Separately they’re a pair of fine songs; as a duo, they shape the persona of a band well-deserving of our attention.
No matter which way you look at it, House of Curses pull out all the stops and introduce an audience hungry for heavy metal thunder to a smoothly executed sound that is as original as it is addictive. Whether you’re new to the genre or have been a lifelong disciple, this EP satiates the beast that lives within thanks to a litany of explosive riffs and searing solos that come together to create a solid release almost guaranteed to hit the spot this winter. While the season is chilly, this band is getting hotter than ever right now, and a single listen to this disc will show you why.