Tuesday 22 July 2014

Vinyl Corner: Curse The Son - Psychache (Album Review) & 'Spider Stole The Weed' Official Video Premiere

STB Records are at it again, a label started on whim back into 2012, Steve has taken the label to another level, with their boutique branded vinyl releases.  Following their debut release with Dopethrone’s ‘Demonsmoke’ they have attracted a cult following, and just like any reputable brand, there is increasing demand for their product.  Indeed, STB are in the enviable position having all their releases sell out thus far.  No mean feat in an oversaturated musical climate.

For their latest vinyl release, STB Records are preparing to release Curse The Son’s second record, ‘Psychache’, self professed as ‘The Sound of dinosaurs walking the Earth’, this is arguably the label’s favourite release so far, with STB Steve proclaiming ‘from the first riff of ‘Spider Stole The Weed’ he knew he wanted to release it.  This is merely my opinion of course, and I’m told by my wife that it is never nice to have favourites (I refer to our kids, haha) but in terms of releasing ‘Psychache’ patience and timing appeared to be the key in terms of signing the band, given the apparent interest  in Curse…. from a number of other suitors.  What is clear to all, who have bought or seen STB releases, is that the quality of the product is exemplary, making Curse The Son’s decision to sign for them a no brainer when it came to the crunch.  Steve at STB Records has made no secret of the fact that his label may well be a stepping stone for bands to move onto something bigger, however what a band will take away from STB Records is a superior quality vinyl release.  It will come as no surprise then, when you read the following pressing information for ‘Psychache’

STB Record is presenting 3 separate releases with a grand total of 300 copies in a variety of formats.  For the purpose of this review, ill be looking at the Standard Edition, which is limited to 125, it is a tri-colour vinyl of bone, black and grey, with a heavy duty gatefold jacket.  Next up is the OBI Edition, limited to 100 pieces; this edition is black in ultra clear vinyl with blood red splatter with gatefold jacket.  Finally, is the most sort after, and this is the Die Hard version, limited to 75 pieces, this edition comes in a unique bone and classic black colour with blood red splatter, also housed in an kick ass gatefold.  The Die Hard also comes with exclusive alternate artwork.   

If we rewind back to the tri-colour vinyl and this release in general, it is safe to say that by offering high standard or indeed setting a bench mark for which you’re judged, there is pressure to maintain that quality and with this release, STB records have perhaps surpassed what has come before, at the very least ‘Psychache’ retains that superior quality.  Indeed to maintain quality or surpass ones self, in terms of production, ultimately this leads to more expenditure from the label.  Take the gatefold for example, the second release from STB records to come in this format, there is an additional cost attached.  From my perspective as a customer, this is what I want, I’m a big fan of this format and It pays off because it offers more, you have that striking cover art, a twisted psycho straight from the pages of a Hanneke script and you open it up to fantastic live shots of the band in black and white, with a very slight tinge of green on one of the preamps. Looking closely you can also see faint pictures of a baby doll and some demented clown not to dissimilar from a ‘Saw’ movie.  The attention to detail is subtle and in keeping with the vibe of the record. 

Onto the vinyl then and having researched the process of the tri colour vinyl, there seems to be a knock on affect in terms of cost.  Ultimately, pressing tricolour is more complicated, rather that a press of an original ‘black record’ being entirely automated, there is more emphasis on manual labour, with the vinyl biscuits that go on to be pressed into a finished product, having to be individually sliced into pieces and then reassembled into a multi colour biscuit, and manually inserted into the press.  That is my understanding anyway.  In summation there is nothing standard about this standard edition.  Ultimately, STB Records continues to mix things up and reinvent the brand, whilst keeping prices affordable.  ‘Psychache’ is another example of a unique and top quality product issued by the folks at STB, let’s hope you feel the same when it goes on general release. 

Onto the music, but before we do, Let us think about the word ‘Psychache’ for a second, what springs to mind? In terms of this review, probably nothing more than an album title for Curse The Son’s excellent 2nd record.  However in the interests of research, ‘Psychache’ was borne as a concept to help explain suicide, the defining characteristics of which are, psychological pain of the mind and an individuals ability to cope. 

It is heavy subject matter indeed and whilst I am not certain if this was a concept for which the record it based, for me the music of Curse The Son is perfectly juxtaposed against these themes, in the sense that our ability to cope with things stems from our need for catharsis.  ‘Psychache’ is the perfect anaesthetic to these dark themes, a tonic borne from the bong water of sabbathian worship, it discharges pent up emotions and stress, purging the listener by the power of the riff.  So sit back, take a swig of jack, crank this shit and let the purgation commence. Curse The Son is bringing Liberation through amplification.   

Curse The Son adhere to many stereotypes in terms of doom metal, repetitious riffs, a thick low end bass tone, and a steadfast backbeat, however there is nothing wrong with that, as long as there is quality.  Worry not, whilst this does not reinvent the wheel, there is much to admire about it.  First of all, this record is laden in fuzz; warm and dirty, but without the harshness of say ‘sludge’, your eardrums are immediately penetrated with girth and bulk, not from the appendage of man with a fetish only he can fully explain, but from the down tuned strings being struck from an axe of distortion.   Indeed in terms of their music, Curse The Son deal in volume.  Divine and rapturous levels of riffs dominate much of ‘Psychache’ and the record immediately hooks you in.  For example ‘Goodbye Henry Aslinger’ feels familiar and memorable, a song structured around riffs with enough fuzz to cause the earth to undulate, your introduction is a bouncing pick scrap into a lumbering chord progression. What is refreshing about this record too, is the vocal talent of Ray Vanacore and I say talent, because he has a great range.  On the track ‘The Spider Stole the Weed’ for example, he reminds me of Chris Cornell, but retains his own voice, with the music moving with a rumbling sound, slow and laborious, like a battle hardened solider on a battle field.

From the opening main riff to its finality, ‘Psychache’ is a burly and muscular record.  For me you can almost trace the lineage of their music over the last 40 odd years, a culmination of Black Sabbath, Candlemass, St. Vitus, Trouble, indeed the record as a whole sounds vintage.  It smoulders, the fire from the riffs burning thick with fuzzy smoke, suffocating and dense, interlocked with seething drum rolls and warm combustive bass tones, creating a sound that is representative of their influences and retaining a quality of its own.  This vintage is some of the best of its kind in 2014 and worthy of reverence. A venerable composition enshrined in wax.  

Words: Aaron Pickford

You can pick up this vinyl here from the 26/7/2014 and download here now.  It also gives me great pleasure to present the premiere of Curse The Son’s video for ‘Spider Stole The Weed’.  Enjoy