Band Curse of Cassandra
Album / Label Nekonomicon / Unsigned
Rating 4/5

Eighteen months ago, Dayton’s Curse of Cassandra set out on a mission to redefine their dark electronica sound. They stirred several elements of their lives into a cauldron, most importantly their love for feline culture, and came up with the underground hit “Cult of Cats.” The band toured all over Ohio, and as far out as Texas, Minnesota and Missouri to spread their darkness, gaining their own cult of followers with radio play on over 70 stations spanning the United States.

To improve upon that effort, Jake and Nicole Richter decided to make an album that was darker, sexier, and even more feline in nature. They drew upon the influences of famous witches over time, but that wasn’t the initial plan when writing the album.

“We had the idea to name each song after a witch and loosely base the songs off of their features,” says Nicole. “But we decided to use our own interpretations. Some switched names as the lyrics got deeper, and we re-wrote some of the songs up to 30 or 40 times to get them just right.”

Jake and Nicole Richter (Credit: La Frame Fatale)

The album opens with Circe, the Greek goddess of magic, with pulsing trance-like synths relaxing into a sultry vocals. Almost immediately you can feel and hear the effort the band put into improving their sound. The song builds up with a fun opening scale that Jake tells me was purposefully written with six notes.

“There are secrets written within the music itself. The six-note ascending scale, called a “hexatonic” scale, relates to the word “hex”, or curse!”

Grimhilde opens with Nicole chanting “666 feet underneath.” It’s a reference to the “sleeping death” spell that the Evil Queen places on Snow White in the Brothers Grimm tale. The beat is immediately dance-able and the verses feature a back-and-forth dialogue between Jake and Nicole, with the latter asking “Do you think about me?” It sets a sexual tone for the record early, while the saxophone-tinged chorus warms up even the coldest winter evenings.

The sultriness pulses into Gothel, with its softer chords and velvet whispery vocals. Gothel is the witch who held Rapunzel in a tower, and the song touches on darker elements such as vampires, eternal youth and polyamory. The second-half of the song takes a sexy stroll through New Orleans, exploring a culture that never sleeps and never stops living in excess.

Curse of Cassandra (Credit: Hughes Photography)

We all know of Morticia and her seductive prowess from the Addams Family. The duo slows things down for this track, which features a lot of haunting keys floating in the background while Nicole wails “Kiss me to death.” The song is chillier, with the vocals more chopped up, and it really was the only track that I thought felt out of place on the record.

The warrior Bellatrix brings sexual cat imagery back into the picture and ramps up another blistering saxophone number from Jake. The heat is heavy on the chorus, “With you I wanna play, on you I wanna prey – you’re what I crave.” For a song that starts slow, it definitely evolves into a full-on erotic rave. It could essentially be called a “Part Two” of their previous song Dragon on a Leash. It’s  bold, exciting and erotic.

Rowan highlights Jake’s unique ability to cast a spell on listeners with his own voice. The song again touches on sexual ambiguity and features the red-hot line “We’re an amplifier of desire, cause together we get higher.” The group has never been afraid to explore the darker and more sexual side of things.

“We are trying to build a world that acknowledges eroticism, love and mortality; unafraid to explore the darker aspects of being that have their own beauty,” adds Nicole.

Finally we have Bastet, the Egyptian goddess of protection and cats. It’s a slow, hazy song with Nicole’s voice cutting through the fog like a bizarrely monochromatic lighthouse. If you close your eyes, you can almost feel the tinge of mist on your skin as she cries out “Meow, Meow, Meow, we are Cleopatra’s cats.” There are very few things in life more sensual than a blonde Wiccan witch trilling and purring with blue-grey eyes in the dark.

Curse of Cassandra with their feline companions (Credit: La Frame Fatale)

The album features a bonus track, titled Re-Bind. Nicole explained that the original recording of the song (Binding, from the Curse of Cassandra EP) isn’t close to how they play it live, so they decided to re-record it for the new disc. It’s an appropriately hyper-sexed song with a chorus stating, “I will relieve you, and I’ll give you what you want.” The synths bite harder than any of the other songs I’ve heard from this group, and it’s guaranteed to get your head nodding and toes tapping.

Upon first listen, I was almost astonished by the quality of the record.  The band dedicated themselves to making a record that sounds almost exactly like it does live. If you’ve never seen them perform, you need to do yourself a favor and put that one on your concert bucket list. It’s darker and hotter than anything I have seen elsewhere.

As for this record, Jake and Nicole enlisted the help of producer Big Dragon Music to put together a disc that (at least from a production standpoint) would rival any of their darkwave contemporaries. Equally impressive was their ability to showcase their global reach by reaching their Kickstarter goal within two days. Through all of that, you might forget that they are based out of Dayton, Ohio and live in an RV with their two Sphynx cats, Armand and Asia. Despite the popularity, the band has stayed incredibly grounded.

“We just focus on doing the music and the art and hope that people will connect to it,” said Nicole.
Tracklist
  1. Circe
  2. Grimhilde
  3. Gothel
  4. Morticia
  5. Bellatrix
  6. Rowan
  7. Bastet
  8. Re-Bind (Retro Binding Mix) (Bonus Track)