Run for your lives. Cursed were a 4 piece hardcore punk band from various corners of Ontario and Quebec, active during 2002-2008. With origins on Jacob Bannon of Converge’s Boston-based Deathwish Inc. label, then later to Ontario’s dissolved Goodfellow Records (the first label of now-gigantic Every Time I Die), Cursed carved out their name with a rusty, gnarled blade straight into the heart of the generations-old oak that is punk music. As with the vast majority of hardcore bands, hell, independent music in general, Cursed was fraught with logistical, financial and contractual peril. Regardless, these dudes managed to rise above adversity to deliver a collection of works I believe is amongst the most important of the genre, and in its highlights, approaches the artistic faculty and innovation of the mighty Converge. With an abrasive tenacity, Cursed are a scrappy back alley brawl, where the wirey, scrawny gang arises top dog and unscathed. Spear heading this breathing beast is Chris Colohan, a well-read and equally well-spoken die hard of unabashedly relaying whatever he finds irksome or intellectually-provoking. His vocal texture is of a hoarse bellow half-drowned yet remarkably coherent – one of the greatest I’ve ever heard. Backing Colohan is a wall of locomotive momentum; gripping and unbelievably memorable riffs, world-class distortion, crunchy low end, and absolutely punishing drumming by Christian McMaster, Dan Dunham and Mike Maxmuik, respectively.
As I get older, doughier and more ornery, I’m finding my tolerance for hardcore is becoming increasingly selective. The issue with loud and aggressive music is, well, it’s loud and aggressive – so if you’re not feeling it, hardcore becomes the most disruptive and distracting clatter you’ll ever perceive. It’s like listening to someone fire a machine gun of witches’ finger nails at acute angles across an endless chalk board. However, over the years, Cursed has proven to provide the songwriting talent, calculated blends of intensity and restraint, as well as overall album flow that give them such remarkable sessionability (if I may borrow the craft brewers’ term). No break up is a pretty one, but Cursed is certainly a contender for the epitome of tragic ends. While on the European tour of their 3rd and final album, their gear, merchandise, passports and funding was stolen. Heartbroken, frustrated and exhausted, Cursed called it quits and went their separate ways. And that was that. As they say.
In their 7 prolific years together, Cursed managed to put out 3 LPs and 2 EPs of original work, tour the globe multiple times over, and create a shock wave of influence that still perpetuates in ghostly ripples today. Pictured above are my 2 favourites of their discography, 2005’s “II”, and their magnum opus, “III: Architects of Troubled Sleep”, which I consider one of the best hardcore albums of all time. From the paranoia-inducing introduction and terrorizing blasts of the 2nd track, to the hear-felt slams of the music industry on the anthemic “Friends In The Music Business”, to the perfect closing epitaph, a 7-minute guitar duet dripping in desolation and defeat, “III” concludes this remarkable act in one apt final statement: “…Because in life, very little goes right. ‘Right’ meaning the way one expected it and the way one wanted it. When there’s no right to want or expected anything.”
III: Architects of Troubled Sleep – Friends In The Music Business (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiJvsxMV-yU)
II – Head of The Baptist (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yMy9tX0dXo)