Doomed to popularity
Cura Cochino rides the wave of doom metal with its own flair
After decades of drought, there’s a flood of doom bands in Sacramento today.
The modern fever for tortoise-tempo sludge rock benefits folks like Kenny Hoffman, who plays guitar in Cura Cochino. But he also finds it annoying. Doom used to be unacceptable in the underground, and now it’s as common as a Misfits T-shirt, which he was also irritated to find on the discount racks at Target recently.
“It’s like these days, grandma knows it,” Hoffman said. “She probably listens to Graveyard and Pentagram.”
Hoffman and his wife, Priscila, who sings in Cura Cochino, wanted to assemble a doom band in the vein of Black Sabbath since the late 1990s, but back then, most local musicians preferred shreddier music, like grindcore and death metal. They cycled through members with little hope of recruiting folks who could bear to downtune their guitars to hell and play at a wretchedly patient pace. His sister and brother-in-law briefly joined before opting out overnight, and friends from other bands couldn’t survive more than a month.
Hoffman noticed more attention around 2009, when the band got its first full lineup. Now, dives like Starlite Lounge and Cafe Colonial often showcase doom acts on weeknights. The music is less unpopular, but Cura Cochino, Spanish for “dirty priest,” manages to buoy above the tar sea with its style of doom en español.
In their latest EP’s title track, “La Disección,” an orchestral hacksaw of fleshy guitars and drums heavy as concrete are transported to Baja California when Priscila cries her lyrics in Spanish. She even lets out a grito Mexicano, a howl traditionally heard in Mexican ranchera music.
The EP’s final track, “Funebre Amor,” or “Funeral Love,” is an 11-minute ballad written by the band’s current members, including the Hoffmans, Andy Laughlin (drums), Jim Willig (guitar) and Biaggio D’Anna (bass).
The song begins hollow and gloomy, with a clean harmony ripping into a tired, incapacitated, blues-riff death march told in Priscila’s raspy Spanish. It ends with a medieval hymn of acoustic guitars and light maraca—how accepting death gracefully might sound.
Cura Cochino’s morbid lyrical stories, including fantasies of self-dissection and animals taking bloody revenge on humans for their abuses, are colored by Priscila’s working life at the “grim reaper’s Wal-Mart.” She’s a death industry worker of many trades, performing autopsies, embalming and body removals at crime scenes.
“If somebody jumps off a bridge, she goes and grabs that hamburger meat off the concrete,” Kenny said.
Hoffman released the EP last August on his local label, Buriedinhell Records, which he founded at 19. He wants to do a vinyl release on another small label soon.
Despite the scene’s present love, it’s still difficult to find record distribution for the music, which Hoffman’s accepted, and even appreciated. Doom’s not for everyone, anyway.
“If you’re into this kind of music, there’s definitely going to be some dips in the road,” Hoffman said. “But the dips are the best part. That’s where you find out where people stand, whether they’re really into it for the right reasons, or if they’re just trying to fit in at the moment.”