The Curtains of Night

The Curtains of Night
Chapel Hill Underground, Chapel Hill
Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013

In their prime, The Curtains of Night packed a wallop. The duo of guitarist Nora Rogers and drummer Lauren Fitzpatrick bred metal grandeur with the densest sludge, laying down some of the most intense and satisfying assaults the area has seen these past few years. They played for a while and released one LP—2008’s billowing, thunderous Lost Houses—but they hung it up in 2010, each of them moving on to new projects.

The Curtains of Night

Their current trios—Rogers’ hefty psych-doom outfit Solar Halos, Fitzpatrick’s fist-pumping stoner force Bitter Resolve—were booked together for a show at the Chapel Hill Underground last week. As a special treat, Rogers and Fitzpatrick ended the night by playing three songs. It was Curtains of Night’s first show in as many years.

They admitted that they hadn’t practiced all that much, Rogers quipping that she’d learned a lot about “muscle memory,” but their songs were remarkably solid given the circumstances. The crushing density that marked their old performances was somewhat diminished. This was likely to some degree a function of volume; Rogers’ stack was a good bit smaller than the formidable set-up she utilized back then. But there also seemed to be a slight disconnect between the two players, like the time off had leeched a bit of their chemistry.

They both played their parts well, at least: Rogers unleashed burly, blustering riffs, concussive blows that cut quite deep. Her serrated howl was as sharp as ever, slicing through the onslaught with frightening ease. Fitzpatrick attacked her kit mercilessly, underpinning and counterpointing Rogers with her own fierce tumults.

During one bridge, Rogers ripped into an enormous riff that kept rising and expanding far beyond what you might expect from one guitar. In the past, Fitzpatrick might have ratcheted up her own part to match her partner. This time, she maintained the same propulsive rhythm, serving her purpose without magnifying Rogers’ force.

The Curtains of Night were once one of the loudest and mightiest metal bands in the state. Last week, they proved that they could be again. At the end of the set, Rogers told the crowd that she didn’t know when they would play again. Here’s hoping there’s no if involved.