Release DetailsLABEL Osmose Productions
RELEASED ON 1/22/2007
posted on 4/2007 By:
So, the debut of Taakeriket, now five years running as Sulphur, which includes in its ranks Vrolok, the longtime and recently departed drummer for Aeturnus. I've long enjoyed black/death crossover and have been cranking a disproportionate amount of black metal of late, so it was with hopeful excitement that I came to this.
Indeed, I would have hoped that a band that has two members boasting stints with Aeturnus, Gorgoroth, Enslaved and Vulture Industries between them to name a few, would be offering up something a little more precocious than Cursed Madness, but it seems experience has made these musicians err on the side of caution rather than rock the boat. In truth, Cursed Madness is a very subtle mixed affair. Everything on the surface is excellent-- the production is warm and professional, Thomas Skinlo Høyven's vocals are throaty and enunciating, and songs like "Spilt Blood & Brente Knokler," "Master Of Storms" and the title track feature highly memorable, somber melodies. Underneath that surface though, everything merges into a homogenous, formula-reliant exercise.
Normally that wouldn't be a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination. After all, Cursed Madness is chock-full of rhythm-reliant proto death metal riffage and punctuating high-end guitar squeals not dissimilar to recent Zyklon output. What hurts Sulphur here is that their melodic ideas and sentiments are distinctly black in origin, but being expressed through a restrictive death metal formula, meaning there is no space for creative narrative explorations that are implicit in their presentation and pedigree. What genuinely moving melodies there are are typically exhausted in the first half of any given song, and merely repeated thereafter with no telling expansion. This becomes so obvious by the sixth track ("Cursed Madness") that, as it closes out to fading guitars repeating the established melody and the spoken line 'All alone, so cold and grim. Curse these fucking depressions, and my confused mind,' I find myself thoroughly disillusioned with an ideology, however unassuming, that is simply not fully realized. When Sulphur vary their attack with the darkly esoteric jangling interlude that is "The Descent," or the unexciting stop-start shenanigans and post-death synth embellishments of "Great Shadow Rising," they merely draw attention to the lack of ideas everywhere else.
Ultimately, Cursed Madness is capable of rocking and entertaining, and doubtless will have its many admirers. My criticisms shouldn't dissuade anyone from giving Sulphur a chance-- I can recommend them that much but little more. If your attention span is short enough that you leave behind one song as the next gets underway, then this record will probably be very satisfying indeed. A pickier listener may well find their patience tested by Cursed Madness though, and not in a rewarding way.
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