Punishing and beautiful in equal measure.
Today sees the release of 'Chapter II: Bloom', the new full-length record from West Virginia's finest progressive-metalcore outfit Curses, through SharpTone Records.
Melding crushing riffs and technically precise breakdowns with gorgeously ambient textures and trembling atmospheric builds, the band tackle the harshest things that life can throw at us in a beautifully triumphant and enrapturing manner and come out the other end enlightened. Richly layered and wonderfully intoxicating, it's a record that deserves your time and attention.
We caught up with guitarist Davey Nicewander and bassist Michael Olivares to chat about the band's evolution and what this album represents for them as a unit...
So, what do you are the main differences between ‘Chapter I’ and ‘Chapter II’?
Davey: "I would say we have come into our own sound a lot better. We’ve found our own sound on both our individual instruments and as a group. I feel like we have dialled in on where we want to be. Of course we will be evolving and changing again, but I feel like we have gotten closer to our true sound as a unit. One thing that has caused that to happen is that we all live together now. We all moved into the same house. So living together makes it much easier to throw around ideas and write things. It’s definitely changed the dynamic of how we work."
And what inspired you to represent your albums as chapters in the first place?
Davey: "They represent a chapter in all of our lives. That’s the way that we see it. It’s a snapshot and sample of things that we were going through and the things that we experienced together at that time."
So when did the first seeds start to sprout for this record?
Michael: "We actually started out by just writing a five song EP. Right as we were leaving the studio after completing it was when we were in contact with SharpTone. So we were doing all the talking and stuff but they wanted a full-length so we had to go back in and record five more songs. But it was a well worth process."
Davey: "Yeah, it’s been a long road really. Having to go back into the studio to record those 5/6 more songs wasn’t the plan and made it much more of a crazy process. It didn’t end up going anywhere that we thought it was actually going to go in the end."
So what was the original blueprint for Curses? What was the aim? And how has that changed over the years to where you are now?
Michael: "Well there was a previous group that some of us were a part of us, but we came together collectively and actually created as Curses. As long as we were able to travel around and play our music for whoever wanted to hear our music, that was all we wanted to do. I just love playing."
Davey: "It definitely started out as us just wanting to jam with our bros. I don’t think there was ever really an aim, but it has evolved in a way where we definitely have more concrete motivators. The core elements are still the same though. I just want to make music with my friends."
How has the philosophy of the band and what you want to actually be writing about adapted then? It feels as though Chapter II focuses in a lot more on very human subjects…
Davey: "As this record was being written, and a little bit before we started, we all went through different things individually. Some of us experienced loss. Some of us were asking ourselves a lot of questions and there was a lot of introspection. I feel like the overarching theme of this record came about pretty naturally."
Michael: "It was more a case of case of putting our own experiences and what we have learned about ourselves and how we’ve dealt with that on to paper."
Finding that balance between discovering who you are and wanting to make art from those discoveries is a really special thing…
Davey: "I feel like as musicians that’s something that we sign ourselves up for. You put yourself up on the cutting board a little bit. Any due process that we have to go through we will because this is what we’ve always wanted."
So what is the process of putting songs together like for you as a group?
Davey: "It usually starts with guitars and drums, and bringing that into the changing sounds that we have between the chapters I feel like our influences changed a lot too. Our dynamic shifted so that we are getting a much more personal look at us musically. The fact that we have spent so much more time together has meant that we were able to reach another level."
Michael: "There is definitely a much more genuine Curses sound because of it."
When you’re living together you see a much rawer and more real version of each other…
Davey: "Yeah we have evolved as friends as much as we have musically."
So what does ‘Bloom’ mean to you all?
Davey: "I think overall it represents growth despite the challenges of the world and of daily life. It’s all the challenges that come with it. Loss is a big overarching theme throughout this record. It’s the process of prospering in the face of loss."
Michael: "Whereas 'Chapter II' was ‘Introspect’, the process of looking at yourself, there were parts that we found that we maybe didn’t like so much. To me, ‘Bloom’ is both engaging the parts that I don’t like and accepting the parts that I can’t change. It’s about blooming into myself and becoming more of myself."
It’s an incredibly honest way to be in a band…
Michael: "I think with us being as honest with ourselves and with each other is where our sound comes from."
Davey: "Yeah, I feel like we get the best version of us by being transparent. We get the most genuine version of Curses we can."
There’s a purity and clarity to the Curses sound at this moment, and it’s something that feels very natural too. It’s a feeling that transcends you and reflects within the people who then let you into their lives…
Davey: "That’s exactly what we want. There are other bands who have done that to us in our lives. That’s a profound thing and something that has fascinated me for a long time. If we can bring that about in people who hear our music, then that’s awesome."
So what does Curses look like as we move forwards?
Michael: "I try to not look too far ahead because I don’t want to get lost and miss the present. But there are a few things that we have our eyes on that we want to achieve."
Davey: "I just take it all as it comes. Right now we’re just rolling with it and seeing what happens."