2 Dec 2022

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Curlys Jewels - Single Review: Criminal

06 Nov 2022 // A review by Nicholas Clark
Curlys Jewels' Criminal begins with one hell of a riff inspired by the glory days of 90’s grunge, but produced with a little more bite giving it a metallic vibe. I instantly thought of Alice in Chains, not only as an influence on the song but also as another band that drew heavily from both genres.

After a heavily effected signal that operates as a segue, the band enters the less intense verse. When Jel Pollock, the band’s vocalist, joins the song the listener can tell which instrument is really going to be showcased. Her voice is similar to Lzzy Hale from Halestorm, but I would venture to say that Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson must be an influence on her phrasing and strong delivery also. New Zealand’s Tadpole also come to mind. Like many of their other songs, such as Liberate, there are moments where Pollock has harmonised with herself for dramatic effect, proving her powerful and adept control of her voice.

The song then moves to the chorus that has an Adam Jones’ (Tool) feel thanks to the chunky guitar playing from Aaron Ludlow, while Pollock sings ‘I never saw it till it slapped me in the face ... despicable, criminal’. It’s pure fist pumping anthem rock. I can imagine this going down a treat live.

When the band returns to the subdued verse, I can hear other influences, such as European Power and Symphonic metal but much of that has to do with the exotic sounding notes and of course Pollock’s dramatic vocals. The rhythm section here of Andy van der Heyden (bass) and Corey Bell (drums) is professional to the point of inconspicuousness – there are few fills that jump out from the mix. Again, this goes back to letting the voice be the star, or the heavily effected guitar at other moments using effects produced in the studio or from pedals.

They told you not to bite the apple,’ she sings in the second verse, and I am beginning to get a little confused over the references. There was something about a cross to bear in the first verse. And a prophecy. However, it’s important to remember here that there is an abundance of heavy music with gruff male singers who get away with near indecipherable gibberish through screaming. They wouldn't be held responsible for explaining their lyrical references. The reason I can hear the lyrics at all is due to Pollock’s clear delivery – I shouldn’t really complain as the syllables work within the context of the song; but I’m not sure what the song is about, other than a despicable criminal. The mosh pits won’t care.

There are soaring vocals over the bridge, and another heavily effected delay signal for the guitar break instead of a solo. The whole song ends with another impressive descending tone. The layers of the song really complement one another. It's a dense cake of awesome.

This song is everything that fans of the band want. It’s similar to their other songs in both tempo and balance of instruments, but that’s not a bad thing. What they do, they do well and with charisma. I would say that the grunge influence they mention on their pages is not as evident (at least in this song), and while describing them as metal to some metalheads might lead to a disagreement, to me they fit nicely in the genre of melodic metal. The crystal-clear modern production certainly helps this classification. Grunge, to me at least, had more punk on its sleeve, experimentation and guitar generated feedback as opposed to pedal or studio created noise. Whatever the genre, Curlys Jewels certainly know how to rock, and this single is catchy, powerful and will absolutely rip in the live setting.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Curlys Jewels

Curlys Jewels are a rock band from Wellington NZ. Their sound has been described as grungy yet powerfully emotive, pinned together with soaring vocals, dark guitar undertones and a punching rhythm section. The charismatic, colourful and instantly likeable front person, Jel Pollock, draws listeners in with her delightfully unique stage presence and sensational vocal range. Aaron Ludlow (guitar), Andy van der Heyden (bass) and Corey Bell (drums), provide the energetic foundations complimenting Jel, with all members lighting up the stage.

The band has released a number or records over the years enjoying success on the Official NZ Top 40 Charts. The past 3 Curlys Jewels singles were recorded at Roundhead Studios with the legendary producer Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers) and mixed by Clint Murphy (Devilskin).

Curlys Jewels have supported several heavy weight New Zealand bands such as Head Like a Hole, Devilskin, and toured with The Feelers. They also supported international rock stars Living Colour at their Wellington concert.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Curlys Jewels


Year: 2019
Type: EP
The Skin We Shed
Year: 2017
Type: EP
No Apostrophe
Year: 2014
Type: Album

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