Review: Pijn & Conjurer – Curse These Metal Hands
You deserve a break.
A break from work. A break from stress. A break from fighting the continuous deluge of garbage heaped upon us day after day. You deserve something uplifting for a change, something to pull you out from the murk and erase your worries, even if only for just a few minutes. Such is the purpose of Curse These Metal Hands, the new collaboration between members of Pijn and Conjurer. A far cry from the former’s bleak, haunting post-metal and the latter’s sludgy doom, Curse is specifically about finding joy in heavy music, and it’s expressed through joyful melodies.
“Cathartic” is a term thrown around with such reckless abandon that it’s basically become a meme at this point, but it’s the most apt description of this collab—it’s all about that build-up and release. However, instead of the typical knuckle-dragging break-stuff-until-you-feel-good kind of tunes that label is so carelessly slapped on, Curse’s movement towards catharsis is overt and intended. Each of the album’s three extended songs use tension as a vehicle for triumphant resolutions, the biggest of which comes from the album’s closing notes as it circles back to the nostalgic primary theme of “High Spirits.” “Endeavor” is the sole exception to this, but it’s framed more as a lead-in to closing track “Sunday,” and it makes that final resolution that much more satisfying.
And while happy chord progressions are all well and good, one typically likes their metal to have some substance in the riffs as well. This project certainly doesn’t lack for it, as the group channels their energy into a fuzzy Baroness-meets-Cult of Luna fusion with a particular focus on warm melody. Perpetually harmonized singing and throat-rending growls coast over the top of energetic but hefty riffs, earthen tones coloring the timbre and the notes themselves. The music is undeniably heavy and progressive, but much like the aforementioned genre giants, it’s rooted more in emotion than the projection of a typically “metal” image.
It’s not as though this is a knock-off of these acts, however; both bands involved have a lot of personality in their separate projects, and they shine through on Curse as well. Emotional riffs with lots of groove totally fall under Pijn’s purview, and the opening on “The Pall” reminds me a bit of “Squall” from their last album, Loss. Conjurer’s influence comes in at the album’s heavier moments, particularly the middle section of “High Spirits” and “Endeavour.” Their individual styles are great separately, and the marriage of the two on Curse is sublime.
The way all of these factors come together—the focus on joy, the warm sound, the smart songwriting—make Curse These Metal Hands one of my favorite releases of the year. I feel like it’s an important one, too; it’s so easy to get mired in misery, but having something truly uplifting to turn to is of great help. Even if it’s the briefest of escapes, it’s one that I welcome readily. As Pijn’s Nick Watmough put it, “The world is shit and getting shitter, but together we can power through and celebrate life in all its silly glory.”