Are the Cure secretly a metal band? Obviously, the short answer to that is No. But have the Cure been a major, and possibly not-so-secret influence on much of contemporary metal? It'd be pretty hard to dispute that, I think. Try imagining Deftones without the Cure—they wouldn't exist. Hell, they covered "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep" on their B-Sides & Rarities compilation. (I once tried to set up a conversation between Cure frontman Robert Smith and Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno for a magazine feature, but Smith wouldn't participate.) Other groups, from Linkin Park to Katatonia, plus a zillion Goth-metal and "prom dress metal" acts, may or may not have explicitly nodded to the Cure, but I can definitely hear some of their ideas present.
The Cure, for their part, have occasionally gotten heavy. Their 2000 album Bloodflowers was pretty doomy, and their 2004 self-titled album was produced by Ross Robinson, who's most famous for working with Korn, Slipknot and other nü-metal acts. I saw them live in June 2000, touring in support of Bloodflowers, and the show was actually a whole lot heavier than I expected it to be. Many of the songs were morose, roaring dirges that, looking back now, sound not that far from some of what Celtic Frost/Triptykon leader Tom G. Warrior's been up to in recent years, and Robert Smith proved to be a shockingly capable guitarist, tearing into some almost Hendrix-esque solos. It was much more of a rock show than I expected it to be. (To get some idea, check out the Trilogy DVD, on which the band plays three of their albums—1982's Pornography, 1989's Disintegration and Bloodflowers—in their entirety.)
Disintegration was reissued this week as a super-deluxe three-CD set. The first disc is the album, naturally; the second disc is all demos and rehearsal tracks, some featuring only Robert Smith's voice and guitar, some featuring the band working out instrumental tracks. The third disc is an expanded version of a 1991 promo-only live album, Entreat, which featured versions of eight or nine Disintegration tracks in its original incarnation, but has now been expanded into a full 12-track live recreation of the record. The original album is brilliant, a churning, late-evening record full of songs that gradually cohere into a greater whole—it really deserves (and demands) to be heard from beginning to end, and while "Love Song" was pulled out as a single and did fairly well at the time, there aren't any true standout tracks. Each piece is a movement in a suite, and the cumulative effect is psychedelic and disorienting, like spinning in circles in a dark room full of unseen objects that bruise, but don't cut, when you bounce off them. If you like Gothic metal, you're probably already listening to the Cure, and Disintegration in particular, on a semi-regular basis. But if you're not, it's about time you got with the program.