On Feb. 8, Miami three-piece Shroud Eater will unleash a new 13-minute single different from everything they’ve done before. Known generally for a pummeling sludge, varying from all-out assault to being tinged with atmosphere, the trio’s last outing was also a single, 2015’s Face the Master (video premiere here), and it was a suitable follow-up to the intensity of 2013’s Dead Ends EP (review here) and their 2011 debut full-length, ThunderNoise (review here). The only bummer was there wasn’t more to go around. Their long-overdue sophomore album, Strike the Sun, was announced last summer as set for release through STB Records, and the band has continued to play shows all the while, but the new song “:th:ree: :cvrses:” — translated to “Three Curses” — is a suckerpunch wall of noise that, again, is unlike anything Shroud Eater have delivered to-date.
Well, there are three of them, and there are three curses, so if you want to find a decent place to start, that’s probably it. The reality of “:th:ree: :cvrses:,” though, has its makings in a night of Miami’s International Noise Conference curated by Beatriz Monteavaro of Holly Hunt. It gave the band an outlet perhaps they didn’t even know they were looking for in terms of experimentation and branching beyond the core aggression of their sound, and “:th:ree: :cvrses:” is a studio offshoot of that, finding guitarist/vocalist Jean Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine and drummer/vocalist/engineer Davin Sosa all contributing synth. The primary vocal impression of the track comes from samples obscured by an opaque, murky wash of drone, as “:th:ree: :cvrses:” brazenly departs chugging and winding riffs in favor of an ambient sprawl that lasts for its entire runtime, but there are far-back screams and shouts as well, also buried alive under noise, that bring to mind something that might show up on a modern Burning Witch album were such a thing to exist. In other words, it is unremittingly dark.
If you’re having a really nice day, you might want to hold off. Or at very least prepare your psyche for a considerable turnaround in mood, because this is no mere dabble. In fact, if anything draws “:th:ree: :cvrses:” into a recognizable sphere for Shroud Eater, it’s the headfirst-dive, full-plunge they make into these atmospheric horrors. Boldness is nothing new for Saiz, Valentine and Sosa, and that goes back to the band’s earliest output in their formative 2009 demo (review here), but there’s little they’ve done that would prepare the fanbase they’ve built for this turn. And that’s what makes it work. On a sheer level of sonics and in terms of methodology, the expansion that “:th:ree: :cvrses:” represents makes Shroud Eater‘s processes that much richer and carries the feeling of an exorcism — something the band had to purge out of their collective system. I asked them to tell me about the song’s origins — you can see their responses under the player below — because I wanted to know what impulses they were following in its making, and you’ll note as you read that all three members make particular mention of enjoying the prospect of what this might eventually bring to their core sound.
Sosa calls it “refreshing,” while Valentine puts forth the possibility of more noise-based releases and Saiz backs her up and confirms more experimentalism to come. The only question at this point is whether “:th:ree: :cvrses:” becomes a working model for one-offs — a noisy incarnation of Shroud Eater — or a general move toward ambience they’re able to apply progressively to the sludge songwriting that’s been more familiar from them. I do not know which way they’ll go, if either, but listening to the horror show that “:th:ree: :cvrses:” conjures across its consuming and extended span, one more thing that ties the piece to the rest of their work is the mountain of potential it represents. One hates to think of anything delaying their second album further as we move toward six years post-ThunderNoise, but they’ve opened a doorway here and given themselves a fresh side to explore, and one is likewise excited at the prospect of what they might find as they creep deeper within the contrast. We’ll see.
Please find the stream of “:th:ree: :cvrses:” below, followed by the aforementioned quotes from Saiz, Valentine and Sosa. Once again, the official release date is Feb. 8.
“:th:ree: :cvrses:” is performed by Shroud Eater: Jean Saiz (vocals, guitar, synthesizer), Janette Valentine (bass, synthesizer), Davin Sosa (vocals, drums, synthesizer). With additional instrumentation by Lauren Palma (guitars), Zeus Chirinos (bass). Recorded & engineered by Davin Sosa. Mixed & Mastered by Aric Meerbot.
Davin Sosa on “:th:ree: :cvrses:”:
The idea for the track came from our inclusion in last year’s INC (International Noise Conference), among other things. We prepared a 15-minute piece between two synthesizers and a noisemaker. Wielding the atmosphere instead of our guitars and drums was really damn fun, not to mention refreshing! It only made sense to try and record it proper. Another motivating factor for me was the new Boris x Merzbow record released around the same time. Their use of weird, affected vocals and overwhelming walls of sound was a big influence on my contributions to the track. Definitely wouldn’t mind doing more like this in the future!
Janette Valentine on “:th:ree: :cvrses:”:
I’ve been eager to try something different and new as a band and this was the perfect thing for us to tap into. I dig noise that is heavy, sinister and sad. Holding down the groove and mood on synths is something I plan to continue to do, and my hopes are that we can record a full EP that explores more of this dark and meditative realm.
Jean Saiz on “:th:ree: :cvrses:”:
In all honesty, the idea of creating noise as music was pretty foreign to me at first. After attending and watching friends perform at the International Noise Conference for a few years, there was definitely certain soundscapes and moods that I was really drawn to and resonated with me. During the summer of 2014, where we were sans-drummer and Davin had yet to join the band, I listened almost exclusively to weird, avant-garde, drone, noise, experimental stuff; I didn’t want to hear anything that sounded like a traditional rock/metal/whatever song. Fast forward a bit, and as previously mentioned we were asked to perform at INC on a night curated by Holly Hunt’s Beatriz Monteavaro, and immediately we all knew as a band we were going to ditch the guitar, bass, and drums formula and do something different. What followed was a kind of loose structure of synths, noisemakers and doped-out, meditative vocals that we used as a base for what would later be properly recorded on :th:ree: :cvrses:. We’ll definitely be doing more experimental recordings in the future, as the three of us really enjoyed the freedoms associated with creating something that’s so out there and starkly different from the usual Shroud Eater sound.