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Skaldic Curse - World Suicide Machine - 60%

ThrashManiacAYD, October 21st, 2009

"Misanthropy, Hate, War, Disease". These are the lyrical themes listed on the Metal Archives page for British black metallers Skaldic Curse. It's enough to fill you with spring-time optimism and joy isn't it? It goes without saying that on the whole, the Mayhem inspired BM hammered out by the SC boys is a musical representation of these unsightly themes, high on misanthropy and darkness in a style that follows the classic Norwegian second wave template more closely than other recent BM albums I have had to review. "World Suicide Machine", the bands' second album, has its foundations in the produce of Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Immortal et al rather than the ambient leanings of many of today's BM crop, which depending on how you look at it is just how Euronymous would've liked it, or merely another one for the pile.

Whereas the recent Taake album had a Norwegian-based sound from which the band rarely left, Skaldic Curse do at least mix up the recipe to include the varying feats of DHG, Watain and Secrets of the Moon in their sound, evidenced in opening track "Pest Against Pest". This track, like others, skips between speeds, at times a blastbeat-free simple chord riffing and then suddenly, momentary reprisal to allow your thoughts to gather and a slower, dissonant Skaldic Curse to appear from the darkness. The sense of negativity is best touched upon in the title track where in it's slower moments a strong feeling of Shining arises, surrounded by chunkier riffing in it's first half resulting in the song being as much an 80's sounding death metal piece than contemporary black metal.

Five of "World Suicide Machine"'s six songs top 7 minutes and as such it is only expected that this time is used to allow each song to expand and grow into different chapters, but by the time "Carcinogen" and "Invoking Malbeing" roll round the early promise has slowly drifted away as these two feel prosaic and less involving than earlier numbers. One must applaud the band's decision to feel confident enough to maintain a menial pace for relatively large periods at a time when most in the modern BM field know nothing less than full-speed but after repeated listens I still haven't found myself desperate to repeat the whole affair once its 43 minutes are up, instead relying on the tried and tested method of coming back to it some days listen to check on proceedings. Accordingly so, "World Suicide Machine" has the potential to become a favourite for some deep in the know of underground BM as Skaldic Curse have the correct boxes ticked for a number of the genres ideals, but all in all it ends up a touch difficult to love and is relegated to a mere worthy representor of what solid good black metal can still do without ever reached the genre's true heights.

Originally written for

World Suicide Machine. - 90%

Perplexed_Sjel, July 9th, 2009

Since the debut, which wasn’t picked up on by the majority of black metal fans, Skaldic Curse have had some minor changes to their sound and, hopefully, will have some major changes to their global appeal given the fact that several of the musicians have held positions in highly rated bands that have been taking the British isles by storm over recent times. It would seem that Fen’s bassist, also known as Grungyn, and Fen’s main man, The Watcher, who controls some of the most important aspects of Fen’s music, like the vocals, guitaring and keyboard, are members of this particular band also, which definitely gives this band an edge. The bands second guitarist has also operated his trade in legendary black/death hybrid Akercocke, the Skaldic Curse a level of experience that most relatively new bands lack. This outfit, who have been around for several years now, haven’t received the same levels of attention as, lets say, Fen have, but the bands operate in two very different areas of the black metal spectrum, though they do have some small similarities that can be felt strongly on sparse occasions throughout both of their records, particularly the second, ‘World Suicide Machine’.

I’m glad to see that the band has received a number of positive reviews, including one of my own for the mechanical debut which extracted a level of aggressiveness that is seen in the raw sub-genre. Skaldic Curse, as previously stated, have altered their style a bit, but the consistency is still the same - very high. The band used a weak style of production of the debut, but there is a feeling that the members were either not in the position to use an increased sense of production, or they simply didn’t have the experience within the studio to utilise what they did have at their fingertips. I don’t consider the production to be too much of a hampering, problematic issue when it comes to this band. Heck, I’ve heard much worse when it comes to production and even then, on occasions, I have enjoyed the harsh, minimalistic vision. After all, one has to accept that this band are about portraying a level of aggression that is unheard of in most forms of music and whilst the clean production doesn’t offer the same sort of mysticism, it does allow the areas of instrumentation, like the bass, to really thrive within the environment it lives in. The bassist was one of the main contributors to the debut, processing a sound that made the bass viable to the listener, despite the thin production.

This time round, with the better production, the band has more options with which to work within. This is shown with the more progressive styling shown in songs like the self-titled track which has a fantastic solo and duet performance between the bass and the guitarists, who’re both equally important, despite one of them working almost entirely on the foundation sound, not the progressive structures that don’t try to hide within the thick atmospheres of aggression and hatred. There was a distinctive feeling that both Fen and Skaldic Curse sounded similar on occasions, but this time, the band begin to sound more like Akercocke too, with their inspiring progressive structures that increase a sense of dynamism and individuality, despite having ties to the sound of other bands. At no stage do I think I’m listening to anyone other than Skaldic Curse. They’re all capable musicians with a talent for making even the most aggressive soundscapes sound accessible to the senses of a person who might not like raw emotions all that much to begin with, like myself. This accessibility is crucial in terms of the appeal of the band, which is at an all time high after this intoxicating sophomore effort.

Though Skaldic Curse may not be the bravest act, they don’t lack creativity or innovation, as one might be able to tell by the descriptions of their progressive influenced sound - which tends to rely heavily on the repetitive bass and complex guitar sections that do most of the legwork. The lyrical content isn’t especially important, but there are moments when the largely indecipherable screams become common knowledge as the vocalist bellows in anger a crude swear word and begins to manically laugh during brutally brilliant songs like ‘Worm’, which is so incredibly infectious, drawing on nostalgic memories of the catchy debut, a quality which hasn’t escaped the band once again, especially in terms of the bass and percussion, which both rely on repetition (namely double bass). Songs are ‘Worm’ are crucial in the battle for Skaldic Curse to develop some sort of fan base, which they truly do deserve. Songs like this bring together all the elements that make the band so good, but intensify them and portray them on a larger scale, with heightened emotions and a bigger sense that we’re currently listening to a future classic. Though this record doesn’t excel on from the debut, and although it might have its differences, it is just as good and solid as the impacting debut. Another terrific effort with many more brooding darker elements.

Unconventional English black metal - 90%

KingOvFrost, May 4th, 2009

England’s black metal scene can not compare to the quality of Norwegian black metal recorded between 1991 and up to today, but bands like THUS DEFILED, PRIMITIVE GRAVEN IMAGE, CODE, FEN, ANAAL NATHRAKH and now SKALDIC CURSE are definitely proving to be part of a fearless underground UK black metal scene that comprises a lot of talent and experimentation. SKALDIC CURSE formed in 2001, released their debut album “Pathogen” in 2006, and is now out with “World Suicide Machine” on Bergen, Norway based label DARK ESSENCE RECORDS. “World Suicide Machine” could be described as English black metal immersed in a cold Norwegian blizzard as primitive, nihilistic, cold and clinical are all adjectives fitting the description of the album’s sound in a good way. “World Suicide Machine” is well-produced and it’s a pleasant change to hear raw, passionate and complex black metal played extremely well and given a production which enables the listener to pick out individual instruments, including the bass!

Describing SKALDIC CURSE’s sound is a huge challenge as it’s pretty much unique sounding. Imagine KAMPFAR without the distinct and very folk inspired sound mixed with fearless experimentation from the more current KEEP OF KALESSIN releases. Furthermore, one needs to throw in unpredictable and progressive song structures which are reminiscent of ENSLAVED, improvisational alternative dark rock in vein of TOOL and finally some doses of DARKTHRONE-ish nihilistic fury into the dark mix. As one can tell from this description, there’s a lot of stuff going on and the songs on “World Suicide Machine” draw you in immediately, but demand multiple listens, and it challenges the listener with a wide array of sounds and styles.

“World Suicide Machine” features six songs which clock in around the seven-minute mark, each one containing a number of different sections, so the band doesn’t settle on any one riff for long. The intro and outro to the title track is characterized by a clean electric guitar tone which sounds almost identical to the one in “Sorgens Kammer (Del II)” song by DIMMU BORGIR. This clean and epic tone sounds really awesome and it might get a while before one manages to get it out of one’s head. The most distinct feature however, in this track, is the instrumental low-paced dark rock sounding middle section. Everything about the music is just extremely ominous and creepy, but the instrumental middle section elevates it to greatness.

Contrasting heavy and mellower groovy sounding parts are alternating throughout the whole album. It is within the twitching arrangements and complexity of the material that SKALDIC CURSE come to life. They are not content with just thrashing out the tired old formulas; instead the songs are intricately woven around many cadaverous moods, varied pace and terrifying vocals. With its unique progressive and experimental approach to black metal, “World Suicide Machine” is definitely a contender for the best dark metal release of 2009.

--Originially written by KingOvFrost for the now defunct Northern Metal Webzine.