Cursed Earth –The Deathbed Sessions (UNFD)

Riddle me this, then. How is a metal band supposed to put out a record without a lead singer. And never mind that, how are they supposed to make it sound good?

Well, if you ever find yourself searching for the answer to that question, look no further than Cursed Earth. Because The Deathbed Sessions slaps.

When Jazmine  Luders left the band, the remaining members made an unusual choice. They decided to proceed without a set vocalist and release seven tracks that all feature someone different. And oh yeah, for added measure they decided not to tell us who was on each song.

But we do know that the EP includes Larissa Stupar from Venom Prison, Matt Honeycutt from Kublai Khan, Joel Birch from The Amity Afflication, Booka Nile and Sean Harmanis out of Make The Sufer, Nick Adam on loan from Justice For The Damned, Mark Poida from Aversions Crown and Jack McDonald off Cast Down.

It’s brilliant.

And while you can guess at some of the guests – Honeycutt barrels his way through opener Fear like 10,000 bulls in a china shop, the rest are open to interpretation. ‘Is that Honycomb I hear on the end of Rock Bottom?’ you ask yourself.

Each song takes on a life of its own while somehow staying true to the spirit of the record. Where Rock Bottom ends in a hail of fury and concussion, Deathbed picks up after a slow, teasing, melodic start with ethereal vocals.

Torch does the opposite and pulls you apart like a seagull going through the engine of an Airbus A380. And that means when the breakdown hits, you stay hit. It’s under one-and-half minutes though, so don’t expect the rush to last for very long.

And then there’s the distorted, distopian, distressed Operation that feels like what metal would have evolved in to if we’d been allowed a glimpse into Mad Max’s cultural life.

Like a month to a flame, you’re drawn into the album only to find closer Burn. Few will be able to survive the pure blistering grindcore hell that blasts from the speakers.

And then, in 19 minutes, one of the most interesting and engaging metal records this year is over and you’re left wondering what the hell just happened.