Cursed

III: Architects of Troubled Sleep

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It's a slightly strange world to see a glowering metal record that's partially sponsored and released by the Canadian government via its arts council, but the 21st century is a strange place. This set aside, Cursed's (unsurprisingly enough) third album starts off brilliantly with a cascade of gloomy tones and samples ratcheting up paranoia in the modern day with a serious of semi-official pronouncements suggesting government surveillance and looming threats on the horizons. It's a great start, which makes the initially energetic but somewhat generic songs that lead off the album proper a bit deflating. This said, more variety rapidly becomes apparent and when III's best moments step forward, they're strong as hell -- "Antihero Resuscitator" is the first song with a truly memorable core riff and the band's performance steps up as a result, with a brawling swagger that makes the lyrical portrayal of the manipulation of the heroic image all that much sharper. It might make sense that another standout number is the snarling, slow crawl stomp "Friends in the Music Business" which, as one might guess, is not actually reflective of the sentiments of the lyrics such as "Don't you owe me this? Sign the paper." Other low-speed but high-intensity songs like the title track, as well as the enjoyably curious "Gutters," an instrumental which concludes the album and consists of little more than Dan Dunham and Christian McMaster playing a slightly bluesy series of riffs, help further leaven the mix.

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