A meeting of minds at ArcTanGent festival last year saw rising the UK’s rising stars Conjurer and Pijn play what appeared to be a one-off set under the moniker Curse These Metal Hands, one that was rapturously received given both bands released arguably stellar albums that year too.
Fast forward a year and coinciding with both bands appearing at this year’s incarnation of the same festival comes a collaborative effort carrying the same title that will see them performing jointly over the weekend as well. Curse These Metal Hands, despite what might be thought given both bands’ output, is an exploration of joy and positivity set to crushingly heavy music.. Opener ‘High Spirits’ served as the lead single and opens with calm, acoustic guitar and cymbals before the sun rises and the track truly takes flight, with soaring post-rock soundscapes perhaps because of, rather than in spite of the guttural roars and deep, chugging riffs. The lyrics sing of a storm coming but being lifted and basking in high spirits; a truly life-affirming statement that only becomes more impactful with the heaviness of the music.
‘The Pall’ opens somewhat more jarringly with off-kilter guitar work and drumming that soon opens up again into expansive, emotive post-rock territory that marries the two bands’ sounds together beautifully. The much shorter ‘The Endeavour’ that clocks in at just over two minutes keeps a laser-sharp focus and allows for the heaviness and riffs to come to the fore, a tempestuous, bludgeoning assault that refuses to let up. Finally the album ends with ‘Sunday’, which takes the threads of previous tracks, weaving them together and, along with ‘High Spirits’, really encapsulates what is truly special about this project. Such lengthy song runtimes could easily come across as self-indulgent but it’s easily forgiven with the caliber of musicianship on display here, the complexities of each movement as songs ebb and flow between elegance and brutality.
The release clocks in at just over half an hour spread across four songs but never feels overlong; each song comprises several smaller movements that tie the whole together and Curse These Metal Hands flies by and stays captivating throughout. It should come as no surprise to anyone that these two bands have managed to craft a record that not only serves as a statement of finding joy within such heavy music, but also one that pushes the envelope not just of post-metal but of what heavy music can be akin to what Sunbather did for Deafheaven back in 2012 as well as standing as a thought-provoking, mesmerising album.
Curse These Metal Hands is available 16th August via Holy Roar Records.