Overall Score: 8.5/10 Compositions: 9/10 Influence: 8/10 Performances: 9/10 Pros: Boundlessly joyous and energetic | Beautiful composition Cons: Perhaps strays too close to the bands’ day jobs at times
‘We’re called Curse These Metal Hands’ said Matt King’s Super Hans in an episode of Channel 4’s Peep Show when referring to his band completed by Robert Webb’s Jeremy Usbourne. Seemingly they are two halves of disparate nature; one, a placid and feckless layabout, the other, a typhoon of methamphetamines and hallucinogens. The same cannot be said for Pijn & Conjurer‘s collaboration. Two hardworking, innovative and critically acclaimed bands from the equally acclaimed Holy Roar Records, from which you may expect something ugly, bestial and downright heavy. The latter quality may be true, but truthfully Curse These Metal Hands is mostly a wonderfully upbeat and celebratory affair.
Imagine if Baroness were inspired by Thin Lizzy and you basically get opening track, High Spirits. The nine minutes and thirteen seconds that Pijn and Conjurer have chosen to be their opening gambit in this dreamy experiment are filled with reverent glee. You can tell the two bands had fun making this track, and it actually translates for the listener into a song played in the key of mirth – as the bands describe the album itself. Dual guitar harmonies soar across the heavy, spirited vocals, as huge power chords crash underneath, like violent waves under a cliff face basking in the sunlight. The roars of ‘SPIRIT!’ from Conjurer vocalists Dan and Brady are enough to rouse the soul into participation and it’s certain that it will prove to be a joyous moment in the currently scarce live shows.
In the rest of the album, the DNA of the two participating bands is far more clear than any outsider influence: The crushing riffs with which Conjurer have made themselves so beloved in the UK scene are far more apparent on The Pall, but often overlooked is their ability to create mood. The song feels grimy and steeped in a nasty underside, much like material from their stunning debut, Mire. This isn’t wholly an attribute of Conjurer however, as Pijn have made their aural statement through beautifully constructed soundscapes that invoke strong, visceral emotional reactions. And so does The Pall, sweeping through a harsh landscape built on menacing dread, building from a simple, plucked riff into a bestial miniature symphony that is at once refined and sophisticated, yet carnal and impulse driven. The accentuation from the dual guitars and quieter, reflective passages let you know that this is a damn well crafted song, one written by deeply invested musicians. Any queries as to the effectiveness and legitimacy of Curse These Metal Hands as a project are roundly quashed by the opening duo.
Endeavour and Sunday continue to show the two bands’ unique styles and penchant for musicianship, with the former being a brief blast of shrieking riffage, and the latter an elongated, elegiac piece. In the latter three tracks of Curse These Metal Hands we do see where Pijn and Conjurer‘s bread is buttered, and it perhaps strays a little closer to the day job than an experimental album ought to, but the two styles work so harmoniously it would be a crying shame not to hear more from the duo. Sunday in particular is perhaps the strongest moment on the album, if not a totally left field tableau of the bands’ work. What we do get with CTMH is a massively successful foray into inter-band collaboration, the likes of which are rarely seen. Both parties can walk away from this album with their heads held mightily high, and hopefully we may see this dynamic duo return in the future between their respective album cycles. Pijn and Conjurer are as fitting a pair as any you wish to name, building this magnificent record on a love of Peep Show, music and one another. What’s not to like?
Curse These Metal Hands is released on the 16th of August 2019 through Holy Roar Records.