CURARE, Zeit (2000, self-released)

The skull:
The deep scratches made in a wall barely covered in peeling paint, plus the feverishly scribbled title (which means “Time”) are nearly enough to suggest a truly grim vision of a long-incarcerated prisoner clutching at the last straws of his sanity. But then there’s that stupid skull, which was clearly painted over top of the scratching, making it clear that this grim prison was shuttered for years before it was opened as some kind of vaguely historical tourist destination, and in which some asshole teen on a field trip managed to break away from the class long enough to stencil in spray paint the rad skull he designed for the skateboarding company he’s going to start just as soon as he gets his fucking degree, man. The desperate etchings of a broken man wiped out by the callous vandalism of some punk: same as it ever was.

The music:
This is vaguely industrial-sounding groove metal sung in German, which in my world means Curare are a Rammstein knockoff, even if I can objectively note that Curare are at a minimum more metal. They’re definitely boring, though. The real bitch is that this almost sounds like it could have been good. Their better riffs aren’t a million miles removed from, say, Pitch Shifter in the early 90s, but they’re just off enough to be totally dull. For starters, they don’t capture the sociopathic bleakness that was encoded in everything Pitch Shifter did (before that remix EP that signaled the end of all good things.) And then the singer in Curare sounds less like an angry anarchist and more like a guy who’s just trying to get the party started, or at least trying to impress girls with dyed black hair and Siouxsie Sioux eye makeup. At their most keyboardy, Curare sound a little like Rabies-era Skinny Puppy, which is just another strike against them. We don’t cover a lot of industrial metal here at Skull HQ, and as with most of what we come across, Curare aren’t totally awful, and if this sort of thing is literally all you listen to, then maybe you’d even like them, but I think it’s a lot more likely you just wouldn’t totally hate them.
—Friar Johnsen