With the incredible Heavy Pendulum released just a few weeks ago (which we review here), and the upcoming tour later this summer with Author & Punisher, I've found myself listening to a lot of Cave In as of late.There is so much I absolutely adore about this band. They can get really heavy and then turn on a dime and become incredibly heartfelt. Not only that, they change tempos, experiment with a wide of variety of effects and sounds, and let themselves explore without being tied to a particular genre. I've been listening to this band since their inception and their music has stuck with me all this time.
We all know Cave In's most popular tracks and I'm certainly looking forward to hearing favorites like "Trepanning," "Until Your Heart Stops," and "New Reality" live, but this brilliant foursome from New England has some really deep cuts that deserve a listen as well. Here are my favorites:
Before Cave In mainman Stephen Brodsky got together with Converge drummer Ben Koller to form the mesmerizing Mutoid Man, Koller played on two tracks with Cave In in 2005. "Shapeshifter" was one of them. This song appeared on a very limited edition cassette single during the band's 2005-2006 tour. If you have one of these, you know how great it is. Koller's drums are positively unmistakable and there's an energy here that immediately grabs you and doesn't let go.
The 2003 Antenna record was Cave In's foray into the world of the major labels with RCA signing the band after their success with 2000's Jupiter. RCA, the story goes, was really looking for more anthem type songs that possessed wide appeal to the masses. While many fans were a bit disappointed with the record, there are many redeeming qualities to it as they change their sound up a bit. Brodsky features a lot of clean vocals on the record and Caleb Scofield gets a bit proggy on the bass. I love the interplay between the two on this particular cut as well as the layered guitar solo that comes in towards the end of the song. Many of the songs on Antenna are vastly overlooked and this might just be the most overlooked of them all.
I can't count how many times I listened to this song on my CD player in my old Honda Civic driving through the South Jersey pinelands back in the October of 2002. I distinctly remember picking up the Tides of Tomorrow EP (in which "The Callus" appears on) from Repo Records on South Street in Philly and just continuously listening to it on repeat as I made the trek back over the Ben Franklin bridge. The song is actually a cover song originally composed and recorded by Kansas City's Giant's Chair. Absolutely epic piece of music in under four minutes.
A Failure cover with a unique twist the band puts on it. This is from the 1999 Creative Eclipses EP. I love Brodsky's voice here. This particular EP, released on Hydra Head records, gives a preview of the changing sound to come on the much-less-metal Jupiter record that would release in 2000. This track shows a different side of the band at this particular moment time and demonstrates that they weren't afraid to move into new realms with their sound. The first song of this EP, "Luminance" is also an important deep cut, so let's talk about it as well…
This might be the first Cave In song that evokes the "space rock" moniker. Just listen to the layered guitars and the multitude of effects that the band uses to sweep you away to another galaxy. This song was a complete and total surprise to many after the bruising LPs Beyond Hypothermia and Until Your Heart Stops. And while many were just in shock upon hearing it, we all couldn't help but love it at the same time. Speaking of shock, let's head back to 1998 and rediscover this crusher…
Oh, HERE are those unclean vocals. So very unclean. Produced by Kurt Ballou, this one of the final tracks on the nasty Until Your Heart Stops LP. It's disorienting, rhythmic and angry. Drummer J.R. Conners hits the skins hard on this one and doesn't shy away from the double bass here and there.
"Tension in the Ranks"
While "Ebola" showcases the band's ability to crush bones, "Tension in the Ranks" demonstrates the subtle beauty Cave In is able to create as well. An airy track with lots of melody, this is an accessible tune that might feature the band showcasing just a bit of some pop sensibilities – but not too much.
Speaking of airy, "Air Escapes" is a straight ahead rocker that seems to be vastly underrated in the band's extensive catalog. Off the phenomenal EP Planets of Old, this EP marks the re-formation of the band after a three year hiatus. It's got some great vocals on it and killer riffing all in a rather tight three minute package.
Yes, this is a cover of the famous Cure song from their Disintegration record. This song helped further solidify the majesty of Robert Smith and friends and really stands out in their catalog. On the flipside, this cover doesn't really stand out in Cave In's catalog as much as it should. Perhaps because it was originally released on an obscure Cure tribute CD released on Too Damn Hype Records that's now a highly sought after collector's item. Thankfully, the band re-released it on their more recent Anomalies EP on Relapse which also features an amazing cover of Bad Brains' "I Luv I Jah." Cave In's version of "Plainsong" is this bizarre collision of space rock and goth. It's chilling.
This might be the least listened to track on Cave In's entire Spotify catalog. And it's not overly surprising because it was originally released as one of those hidden tracks on the Beyond Hypothermia CD. If you can believe it, "Crambone" is essentially an eleven minute smashup of a number of Metallica songs mixed with some… well… I'm not exactly sure what it's mixed with. You get lots of screaming. There's a couple of minutes of something that sounds like it comes from a film. Not sure what it is. But you also get lots of nasty guitars and a hefty dose of angst. My favorite part of this track is when Brodsky does his best James Hetfield "Yeah!" at about 0:43. The actual Metallica medley parts start at about 8:00. Makes you wonder what Cave In would sound like if they did an LP of thrash covers… we're talking to you, Mr. Brodsky.