DOWN TO EARTH

SINCE SIGN­ING TO UNFD IN JULY, WEST­ERN OZ RIPPERS CURSED EARTH HAVE DROPPED TWO PUN­ISH­ING EPS AND TOURED THEM RE­LENT­LESSLY AROUND THE COUN­TRY. AND THAT’S JUST THE BE­GIN­NING. IN­TER­VIEW BY LACH­LAN MARKS • IN­TRO BY MATT DO­RIA

Australian Guitar - - Feature -

At a to­tal run­time just graz­ing 24 min­utes, the break­through record from Perth shred­ders Cursed Earth comes and goes in a vi­o­lent haze of riff and roar. Front to back as an 11-track al­bum, Cy­clesOfGrief does its job de­struc­tively well – it’s loud, it’s livid, and it in­jects you with an in­escapable lust to crack a skull or two in the pit. But it’s when the record is split and soaked in as two dis­tinct ‘vol­umes’ – the vi­ciously reck­less Growth and straight-up blood­cur­dling

De­cay – that it takes on a new life and the unique el­e­ments of both halves truly shine.

Ac­cord­ing to res­i­dent axe-an­ni­hi­la­tor Kieran Mol­loy, the in­sid­i­ous du­al­ity of Cy­clesOfGrief ex­ists to build a larger nar­ra­tive of con­trast­ing per­spec­tives, both of which make their most po­tent im­pact when left to fes­ter in the lis­tener’s mind in­de­pen­dently. It also ex­ists to keep those lis­ten­ers en­gaged for the whole ride, be­cause c’mon, it’s 2017 – who even has an at­ten­tion span ex­ceed­ing five min­utes nowa­days?

What was be­hind the idea to re­lease two EPs rather than an al­bum?

The way mu­sic is cur­rently pre­sented and sold, short­en­ing at­ten­tion spans and the fact that we sell phys­i­cal records on vinyl – all of those tend to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where the sec­ond half of LP records fly un­der the radar. The sec­ond half of Cy­cles has very strong songs, a strong con­clu­sion and a counter-mes­sage to the themes of the first, so it felt like we’d be do­ing it more jus­tice by let­ting peo­ple con­sume those halves sep­a­rately. We’ve never been a band that feels the need to do things like ev­ery­one else does. We’re go­ing to ex­per­i­ment, find out what works for us and cut our own path.

What were the chal­lenges – and con­versely, the high­lights – of record­ing the EPs?

It was a big learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. We’d lost our old drum­mer a cou­ple of months be­fore record­ing be­gan, so I ar­ranged with Chas Levi of Jus­tice For The Damned to fill in. I flew from Perth to Syd­ney and spent two weeks liv­ing and jam­ming at the Jus­tice house, be­fore hit­ting the stu­dio with El­liot Gal­lart of Chameleon Sound to track gui­tars and bass. Stay­ing in hos­tels ev­ery night, hir­ing trucks that weren’t road­wor­thy and bat­tling with Syd­ney traf­fic to rent a 1976 Am­peg V4 and Mesa Cab, only to blow the V4 up, were all mem­o­rable chal­lenges.

Work­ing with El­liott was a high­light – we both had a clear vi­sion of what we wanted, and it was both of our first full-length records – and records on an in­ter­na­tional la­bel – so we pushed each other very hard. We went all out with the pro­duc­tion, smacked big, fat strings on the gui­tars and brought in tons of dif­fer­ent amps and ped­als to find the ex­act blend of sounds we wanted.

Why do you think UNFD are the right fit for Cursed Earth?

We went into our first meet­ing with UNFD never think­ing they’d be on the same page as us. Their lineup is a lot more ac­ces­si­ble than we are, and we weren’t plan­ning on wa­ter­ing down our vi­sion or pan­der­ing to any­one. But once we started talk­ing, we re­alised that UNFD – and their bands – are where they are for a rea­son: they’re all hard­core kids from way back, just with a lot of in­dustr y ex­pe­ri­ence and busi­ness skills. And most im­por­tantly, they didn’t want to make any un­nec­es­sary changes to the fab­ric of Cursed Earth.

What does your cur­rent live rig look like?

My cur­rent rig is a Sil­ver Sun­burst ESP EC-1000 through a Boss TU-3 tuner, a Boss NS-2 noise sup­pres­sor and an FX loop to my Abom­inable Throne­torcher and BBE Two Tone, and out through an Elec­tro Har­monix Holy Grail Plus re­verb. I love the sim­plic­ity of it, and the ver­sa­til­ity of sounds I can pull with the Two Tone set to full os­cil­la­tion. The Holy Grail also adds a lot of eeri­ness to the sound on feed­back and leads.

What’s the phys­i­cal toll like for you, play­ing in­tense shows night af­ter night as an up-and-com­ing band that also has to face long drives be­tween shows?

The first and last cou­ple of shows of any tour are usu­ally a night­mare, but you tend to adapt to it pretty quickly. Warm­ing up and stretch­ing helps to coun­ter­act stiff­ness from the day be­fore and the long drive. We also re­ally f***ing en­joy play­ing, so as soon as the mu­sic be­gins, all pos­si­ble strug­gles are out of your mind.

Tell us a bit about your play­ing style!

I’d de­scribe it as very meat-and-pota­toes. The mu­sic we play is a lot of heavy and fast down­pick­ing, palm mut­ing and tremolo pick­ing, which is where the grind-y buz­z­saw gui­tar tone that I use re­ally shines. The hay­wire fre­quency over­lap can make some things less than ideal to play, like string-skip­ping or sweep­ing, but it forces you to play punchy and pre­cise, and let the rhythm sec­tion do it’s work. I’ve played in bands rang­ing from 5150 hard­core to pro­gres­sive death­core, and I’ve al­ways been mov­ing to­wards a style that can be su­per heavy and ag­gres­sive, while not be­ing so tech­ni­cal that I can’t wild out on­stage.

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