Dusted Reviews

Cave In - Perfect Pitch Black

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Cave In

Album: Perfect Pitch Black

Label: Hydra Head

Review date: Nov. 9, 2005

It’s been a long, strange road for Boston-area band Cave In. Emerging from the same post-hardcore scene which spawned the likes of Converge and Isis, the quintet’s initial bludgeoning math metal evolved steadily (from their debut Beyond Hypothermia to the widely celebrated Until Your Heart Stops to 2000’s Jupiter) to incorporate a wide variety of influences, including everything from Mogwai-esque textural drift to psychedelia that could almost be lifted from a Pink Floyd record (though I swear I'm always reminded of Blue Oyster Cult when I hear “Big Riff”). The sound was provocative, and seemed to contain within it a myriad of possibilities.

But then there was that nasty major-label contract. It’s not hard to understand why RCA wanted them: Steven Brodsky’s clean and melodic vocals had been gaining prominence in the band’s mix (just as his gutturalisms were becoming infrequent); the band knew how to write hooks; and the mix was getting clean and shiny, the songs heavily produced and polished. The only problem was that their sole album for the big boys sucked royally. (Okay, there were some good moments, but not a whole lot of them.) They toured, got dropped, and spiraled into self-doubt until a late 2004 tour with old pals Converge reinvigorated the band.

Now, back on Hydrahead, they’ve delivered a fine return-to-form record, in many ways as good as anything they’ve done previously. Much of this material was actually recorded late in their RCA tenure (and there will be another album along shortly, from what I understand), but you can hear the band breaking out and saying “fuck it.” The first thing to note is that they’ve held on to all their influences, but have stopped self-consciously exploring them. Instead, they just rock them all at once and you know it from the outset. The disc opens with a great, expansive wash of space noise before blasting forth with “World is in Your Way,” a chugging distillation of their several areas of expertise (tweaked psychedelia, pounding riffs, and sunny lyricism). The stuff just sounds more integrated here, with terser performances, a refreshing absence of over-production, and a healthy does of attitude.

They still display an occasionally uncanny instinct for the killer hook. I find it difficult to keep tunes like “Off to Ruin” (with its circuitously catchy theme) or “Droned” (whose rolling wave of liquid feedback loops buoys the refrain, “Time goes down the drain”) out of my head. But these pop and psych bits aren’t indulgences but are rather facets of a compelling whole, which extends also to the no-holds-barred biker thrash of “Trepanning,” the stomp of “Ataraxia,” or even the shimmering textures of “Paranormal.” In many ways, I’m tempted to say that Adam McGrath’s crisp guitar work – whether as a conceptualist finding just the right effect, or as a technician ripping off tasty licks – is the secret weapon here. But in the end, this record succeeds because the Cave In seems comfortable in its own skin.

By Jason Bivins

Read More

View all articles by Jason Bivins

Find out more about Hydra Head

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.