Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
The UK bands Conjurer and Pijn are best known as traffickers of musical woe: The former play smoldering, blackened doom, while the latter specializes in doleful post-metal miasmas. This aesthetic overlap, coupled with the bands’ close geographical proximity, made a collaboration more or less destined (misery loves company, after all). When Conjurer and Pijn finally came together to perform four original songs at last year’s ArcTanGent festival, the resulting fusion proceeded titanically and tumultuously, just as expected. The studio offshoot of that one-off collaboration, Curse These Metal Hands, parlays the two bands’ explosive chemistry into a record which—for all its tinnitus-inducing ferocity and elegiac arrangements—practically drips with transcendent joy.
Much like Deafheaven’s Sunbather and Sunn O)))’s Life Metal, Curse These Metal Hands gets its gravitas from a sustained tug-of-war between blinding light and unyielding darkness, harsh doomscapes bathed in warmth, light, and optimism. Nine-minute opening track “High Spirits” sets the jubilant tone from the start with a serene post-rock intro punctuated by tambourines and slow-rolling drums. A surging, melodic sludge section — think late-period Baroness — floods the verdant scenery shortly thereafter, before the crescendo rolls in to carry the song to its conclusion. The ensuing songs practically radiate with the speakers, as well — particularly “Endeavour,” a rare example of a heavy-music band incorporating choir-like vocals into their music without coming across as try-hard or corny. What we’re left with is a ferocious, feel-good listening experience that’s hard to forget.