Funeral Empire, Happy Birthday to the Crimson Curse Greatest Hits CD, 07/03/01

It’s hard to believe the Crimson Curse’s Greatest Hits collection came out two decades ago. But it makes sense too, at least on a personal level. Songs like “Goldfish,” “Both Feet in the Grave,” and “Funeral Empire” have been in my blood for so long they’re a part of who I am, of where I’m coming from, how I judge the art of others, and how I see the world. It feels like it came out yesterday and it feels like it came out 9,000 years ago. Better yet, it feels like it always was (and it will definitely never be again).

Greatest Hits is made up of punk songs stripped of all the bullshit that comes to mind when you hear the word. They’re punk songs by people who could play cleaner and more technical but chose not too. (The core of the band was Justin Pearson, Damien Alexander, Michael Cooper, Jimmy LaValle, and Christopher Sprague.) By deciding to keep it trashy they also brought (by way of skill, good taste, creativity, and past history) ideas and energy that kept the music from sounding formulaic, cliched, or like anything that came before.

The forward-pushing drums, bass, and guitar paired with Justin’s shout-shriek and the Halloween movie organ sounds vampiric, nasty, speed-freaked, and gut-churning. Greatest Hits exemplifies the gothier side of San Diego’s punk scene, the side that stood staunchly opposed to bro hardcore. It’s also an incredibly catchy record. There’s a lot of melody and harmony here that makes for a beautiful recording–nothing muddy or so entrenched in noise as to be incoherent.

There is not a miss on the record, not a second that’s undercooked, bland, or tired. These songs have the energy of a houseshow and the thrill of a car crash. They will never grow up and never get old. Eternal hits, forever hits.

Adam Gnade, author of Locust House, This is the End of Something But It’s Not the End of You, and Float Me Away, Floodwaters