Review EP curse

Read Rob Veltman’s review of the EP curse in Dutch here or in English below.

After Katie Kruel’s strong debut a couple of years ago the band now releases the EP Curse, available on cassette or as a download.

After this first album in 2013 the rhythm section (for this release consisting of half of the Rotterdam band Spasmodique) departed and was replaced by a new backbone featuring Hennie Brussee on bass and Piotr Szczepaniak on drums. With this duo Katie Kruel’s hard core Nathalie Houtermans (vocals) and Hans Dirksen-Smits (guitar) created this 4 track collection. In the meantime the band has retired Brussee and is now preparing for a worthy follow up on the first album with Martin Kooy on bass.

Curse carries on where the band left off and still the ‘swamp rock’ (or death rock as the band prefers to call it) connection with this other dark Rotterdam band Spasmodique shines through despite changes in the line up. Both bands find their inspiration in the dark crypts of the (urban) spirit.
This EP may be a little more light-hearted than their previous work. This is partly due to a more open production and more subtle bass and drums, partly to the band taking things less seriously for the moment. Katie Kruel on Facebook regarding their new website featuring this new release: “Since it’s springtime, it’s about time for some gray.” Gray, as in: not black, you understand.

Things are not all happy and cheerful now but definitely sincere, firm and a little more airy. Or so it would seem on the first track Stroll which builds up slowly around Houtermans’ somewhat hoarse voice. Halfway through the band grabs you firmly by the throat again (“no release”) and ultimately ends in a low key finish.

The very strong track Call sets out to deepen the gray. On top of the nearly manic bass the grainy sound of the guitar slowly sucks you into a mesmerizing vortex which, though it already lasts more than 5 minutes, may have well been much longer. This track really illustrates Szczepaniak’s excellent drumming, from simply impelling to explosively forceful.
His craftsmanship continues on the more rocky track Dive. It also demonstrates again how Hans Dirksen-Smits’ gritty guitar sound and Nathalie Houterman’s powerful voice, fanning out from soft and hoarse to dark screams, really empower each other and make for a fantastic combination.

Black Widow’s Blues is the absolute climax of this release. Nick Cave’s ‘The Birthday Party’ is often quoted as a source of inspiration for Katie Kruel and this track is a fine example. Passionately, almost as if possessed, the black widow grabs hold of you and sucks you into a gloomy, poisonous swamp. Finally it sounds like you move ever more slowly into the dark swampy marsh to eventually get sucked in and be swallowed.

And then all is quiet. Except for the mesmerising buzz inside of our heads created by the fly on the cover. It’s our imagination of course….. Not so much caused by a spell, more like a curse. Katie Kruel’s intention exactly.

Curse has not been released as an interim, it is an excellent mini-album on which Katie Kruel again demonstrates its central role in being part of a musical tradition typical of Rotterdam. Adding sound to the grit and gray of a big city. A very nice performance.

Rob Veltman (
translation: Liesbeth Harmen