First and foremost, get that “alt-metal” label out of your head. This isn’t a review for Godsmack or Adema. For most of the past decade, Cave In have been creating some of the most challenging and intelligent music that had appealed to headbangers, indie fans, and prog-heads alike. Their last effort, 2003’s phenomenal Antenna was remarkable but didn’t satisfy the suits at RCA who eventually dropped them. But did Cave In let it get the best of them? Hell, no! They returned to longtime home Hydra Head and made the mind-boggling Pitch Perfect Black.
“The World Is in Your Way” starts out melodically as its crunchy drones seep their way into the chorus alongside Adam McGrath’s whizzing guitar licks. Pitch Perfect Black circumvents a post apocalyptic doom metal vortex with numbers like “Off to Ruin” and “Down the Drain,” both tracks that Mad Max would dig as he lays the smackdown at Thunderdome. (No offense, Tina)
At times there can be rapid vocal shifts that are simultaneously sonorous and raw and seem to come off in a tepid call-and-response delivery, though they do blend in well with the riffs and the jazzy rhythmic zigzags. A hardcore barnburner like “Trepanning” has a pulse that is somewhat beer soaked in the, uh, hardcore sense, yet remains intelligent and ahead of its time with a minimalist boogie and rumbling bass patterns.
“Paranormal” is especially amazing with its thrash metal backbone and a breakdown reminiscent of John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, while the mildly sugary and hazy hues on the appropriately titled “Drones” set in well with the spiky keyboards. Tracks like the instrumental “Ataraxia” are forlorn, however, which exhibits Cave In’s nihilistic approach into a post rock tundra before returning to a more terrestrial sound with “Tension in the Ranks”
With this being their fifth studio album, Cave In still remains a force to be reckoned with. They are one of the few rare bands these days who can make metal for the thinking man.
Alice In Chains – Alice in Chains
Botch – We Are the Romans
Isis – Panopticon