16 - Curves that Kick
Relapse Records
Sludge/Alt. Metal
12 songs (40:11)
Release year: 2010
Official Myspace, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Charles
Here’s another of Relapse’s seemingly endless stream of re-releases of albums that were originally put out on smaller labels. 16 released Bridges to Burn last year, on Relapse itself, and the album was mastered by Scott Hull, no less (although it completely passed me by). But Curves that Kick is their debut, from 1993, and it is soaked in early-nineties alternative metal flavour, with its gritty, angular approach being reminiscent of classics of that vintage like Helmet’s Meantime. They’re heavier, no doubt; the guitars here have a deep, sludgy tone and the vocals, whilst being pretty comparable to Page Hamilton’s, have a gruffer hardcore edge. But those jerking grooves and that fondness for dissonance and noise certainly come from a similar place.

So this is packed with grungy stompers, at times almost sounding like Soundgarden being simplified, and then dragged slowly into a Louisiana sludge swamp. Nova, for example, is based around a bass riff so simplistic and so catchy that it could be used as a rudimentary fish hook. Joe the Cat is similarly appropriate for an addled 1993 house party, though on this one the infectious riffs have an edgy, stop-start quality and shift constantly from tempo to tempo. So it is, that this Curves that Kick has a character that is simultaneously immediate and accessible, and quirky and avant-garde. The best track is the opening title track- a kind of scuzz rock number that is drenched in fuzzed-out vocals and screechy lead guitar noise. Midway through, it screeches into a thudding clunkdown, that brings the piece stuttering agonisingly to a close.

Overall, a more than pleasant surprise. Curves that Kick is recommended for those of a certain age who may be nostalgic for the sounds of the US alternative rock and metal scene of twenty years ago.

Killing Songs :
Curves that Kick, Nova, Chum
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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