JOHN TRON DAVIDSON
Reading the words 'nu metal' in a press release in 2018 is genuinely alarming, but nothing could have prepared this reviewer for what was to come. On a windy afternoon in February, your writer sat down to listen to - and to review - the debut album from Italy's THE MOTHMAN CURSE.
Never in the history of humankind has a record been more ironically named. As HOPE begins, the crumbling, creeping voice and atmosphere of unease is quite genuine, and the potential for there to be a sinister collection of serpentine soundscapes is perfectly laid out. When 'Dark Knight's bass bumbles into view, everything is still alright, but at precisely 23 seconds into this song, disaster strikes.
There are certain things that can be forgiven on a debut album. Openly referencing of your favourite bands? Not unheard of. Not playing at a high technical level? Sure. Guitars out of tune a bit? If it's intentional and adds to the atmosphere, absolutely. Being a bit uncertain of what you are? Understandable. Less-than-capable vocalist? A burden carried by many a great band. Doing them all at once though, that's not on.
To get right down to brass tacks, HOPE is a melding of cro-magnon nu metal, metal-derived acoustic balladry and early '90s mid-paced riffs topped predominantly with a gruff, fumbling roar, or in the case of the delusional schmaltz of 'Mothman', some pained clean vocals. The production is misguided, distant, and badly balanced, and the fact that the four band members - and presumably an engineer - took a step back from this and said “nice one lads, it's in the can”, generates true pathos in this writer.
There's a flicker of Nirvana on 'I Am Buried Alive', splinters of SYSTEM OF A DOWN and primitive metalcore on 'No One', and some milk-mild thrash on 'Silence Of Death', but the overall effect is frustrating, confusing and saddening. Very few bands get it right straight of the bricks, but a track like 'Hypnotic Rain' is totally incongruous, jarring wildly with the rest of the album. Instead of showing depth, it serves to illustrate how unfocused THE MOTHMAN CURSE are, and is followed by single 'Screaming'. The accompanying video shows that while the band have part of their image down, there is a galactic void between how they think they sound and how they really sound.
On the plus side, most of the tracks are quite brief, but the true pinnacle is 'Sound Of Darkness'. Sounding like a charmingly shambolic underground black metal demo, it romps away until the solo hits, and the Wrong-o-meter goes through the roof. Upon its completion, the level drop back to the rhythm guitars is vast, and despite the litany of errors leading up to this, it still manages to defy belief.
The songs beneath are average, but presented in such a way as to be almost comical, and can hardly be what the band intended. As they've only been together since last year, it's clearly far too early to be making a debut album, and indeed a 4 or 5 track EP of this nonsense would have been preferable, but if they've got the ambition, THE MOTHMAN CURSE may produce a solid record. Che peccato.
The MothMan Is Here
Silence Of Death
I Am Buried Alive
Sound Of Darkness
RatBoy - Vocals and Guitar
M.J. - Guitar
Lone Psycho - Bass
Coldface - Drums