This Gift Is A Curse

I, Guilt Bearer

Written by: AP on 05/12/2012 14:26:58

In my days of writing reviews for this webzine, I have come across plenty of dark, extreme music - mainly within the death and black metal genres. But with the exception of a few notorious bands from Norway, most of the time the extremity of their music is simply an aesthetic that the artist(s) in question have decided to pursue from interest rather than than true personal conviction. Every now and then, however, I come across bands that are so extreme that I become convinced they live and breathe the darkness of their music; that it is who they are as people. One such band is the Swedish quartet This Gift Is A Curse.

With that album art, a promo text that reads "Black blood upon the altar..." and song titles like "Att Hata Allt Mänskligt Liv" (which translates to "To Hate All Human Life") and "I Will Swallow All Light", the band leaves little doubt about the style of music they play. But it is not black metal per se; it is the sort of black metal/sludge/hardcore hybrid that has become widespread in Denmark of late, courtesy of bands like Ajuna and Hexis. The comparison stops at shared labels, however, as in stark contrast with those bands, there is a real evil to This Gift Is A Curse that bleeds through the entire record to a degree that will push most listeners away the moment that opening track "The Swarm" begins. To call it a song is to acknowledge that a rumbling tremolo melody constructed out of exactly three low-end notes; ultra-chaotic drumming; and distorted, hellish screaming, constitutes a recognizable song structure - it is about as punishing as music gets, and the formula upon which much of "I, Guilt Bearer" is based.

There are slight variations to be found, of course, as things are slowed down considerably in the downtrodden "Inferno" and "Att Hata Allt Mänskligt Liv" to reveal both the band's sludge and doom influences and their understanding of conjuring an atmosphere. Still, the music is so down-tuned and dissonant that casual fans of those genres will be put off almost instantly. "The Sound of Broken Bells" - my personal highlight of the album - does boast a rather traditional riff in its initial phase before evolving into a suffocatingly intense celebration of darkness, but besides this tiny nugget of accessibility, there are no rewards on "I, Guilty Bearer" that come easy.

With patience and an understanding of exactly what it is that This Gift Is A Curse are trying to achieve with the album, however, the rewards are there to be reaped, as what you have here is quite possibly the most extreme album released this year. Fans of extreme metal are likely to decry the infusions of hardcore on it, which manifest themselves only in the vocal department and small excursions into dissonant chugging and breakdowns, but if you're willing to look past those preconceptions, or if you simply wish to hear, feel and taste total darkness, then "I, Guilt Bearer" is an excellent piece of music that deserves to be heard. Once you've done so, make sure to see This Gift Is A Curse live as well; they have a habit of rubbing themselves in tar so you can also smell them.


Download: The Swarm, Att Hata Allt Mänskligt Liv, The Sound of Broken Bells
For the fans of: Hexis, Moloken, The Secret
Listen: Facebook

Release date 11.05.2012
Discouraged Records

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