It’s safe to say Hazzard’s Cure bloody love metal. The Bay Area foursome’s self-titled debut drips passion for getting toasty and losing yourself in the sweet abyss of the heavy.
Nor are these chaps monogamous to a single metal mistress.
They love to put themselves about, flirting with elements of stoner, sludge, thrash, crust, NWOBHM, black, doom… you name it, it’s here.
What you make of this approach comes down how open you are to a 38-minute crazy metal smorgasbord. And one that can be the aural equivalent of someone grabbing a piece of juicy steak right out of your mouth mid-chew and stuffing some squid in there instead.
Fine perhaps if you like cephalopods but what if you were just LOVING chewing that sweet, sweet cow eh?
Psilocybin opens the album with chewy, slow-tumbling riffs. Biff, boff, baff they doom-slap you around the chops and put you on your knees begging for more before mounting up for some… d-beating punkerama?
Before this 6:32 song is out we’ve had clashing samples and a pulsating bass-drone section that ends in hacking coughs. Eh? Have I had a micro-sleep and skipped to another track, another album, another band even?
This is some seriously stoned metal.
Be warned, if you aren’t a total metal slut there will be segments in Hazzard’s Cure that really kill your buzz.
Instrumental Meet Me at the Mountain completely ditches the entire feel of the previous track for something much more minimal and alt-rock.
It obliquely recalls the more metallic early 90s grunge output. Soundgarden? Alice in Chains? A harsher Smashing Pumpkins? It’s pretty good but doesn’t feel like the same band.
The tone lurches once more to dump us blinking in High on Fire territory for Tossed and Dethroned yet Hazzard’s Cure really nail this style.
It’s wonderfully beefy and gnarly and I am certainly enticed to bang my head to it despite a reasonable debt to Mr Pike and co.
Not only do they stay focused for a whole track but they continue in the same vein for Clashing of Hordes. I get the feeling that thunderous stomp is perhaps the nucleus of their identity and what a joyous sound it is.
However just as I am getting into this gritty groove, Hazzard’s Cure play to type again, screeching to a halt for a random mid-song acoustic interlude.
That would be fine but as the instrumentation comes back in, it’s another case of the amazing chameolonic band. Clean singing and polite drumming – it’s positively Simon & Garfunkel-esque!
Then when the distortion kicks in the rugged stoner metal has been forgotten and instead I’m hearing a grungier Use Your Illusion-era GNR.
I am baffled. Stop stuffing my face with random lobster and lemon drops! Gimme me back my steak!
I like it… but I wish Hazzard’s Cure would stick to one central idea then refine and vary it rather than trying to cram everything they have ever loved ever into 38 minutes.
Prayer for the Hunted really suffers from this approach.
It starts brilliantly.
Jagged, sharp thrashing riffage that puts me in mind of early Mastodon with a marked step-up in gear at around 2:00 when the previously comprehensible Lemmy-ish vocals degenerate into screams.
Only for it all go to shit 45 seconds later with a grating vocal switch to dirgey doggerel (the third distinct vocal style in under three minutes) that just kills the track.
Other times it works the opposite way. Great Dishonor segues from a doomy drawn-out intro into, wait, what? A Cinderella instrumental?
All the more so when blackened vocals make an appearance. It’s a little flat-footed until, of course, the band switches to a breakneck tempo for a final section that is really quite rad.
From a simple, ringing riff, middle-eastern style leads and some enjoyable throat-shedding rasps we end up in the middle of a big stoner metal riff pile-up of a climax that’s really satisfying.
Despite the flaws, it’s clear Hazzard’s Cure have talent in spades. When the record is good, it’s damn great so I’ll be keeping an eye on these guys. If they can learn to blend their influences a little better, we could be in for something really special.