Exclusive MP3: Cave In

LISTEN: Cave In, "Down the Drain" (mp3, OTD exclusive)
[Ed. note: This song is actually called "Down the Drain," not "Droned," as previously stated: that's what happens when you're working with a pre-pre-release CD-r.]

Most of Cave In's albums have been of a piece -- it's just that they're each different pieces. Over the course of four records, they turned age-old rites of passage (hardcore band discovers metal, metal band discovers prog rock, art rock band discovers drugs, space cadets attempt populist hard rock) into a series of grand theatrical gestures, burning the maps (and bridges) at every juncture, stranding themselves on distant planets and then playing themselves back home. OTD has long been a champion of this process, and a rabid fan of the results. But Cave In were bound to hit a dead end eventually, and in a stroke of lousy timing, they picked their RCA debut, Antenna, as the occasion to deliver a few outright flat notes. We never doubted Stephen Brodsky's sincerity when he claimed that writing three-minute pop songs was just as challenging as drafting eight-minute laser-tag epics, but dangling like a participle next to Antenna's droopy album sales was the concurrent meteoric rise of a shitload of bands who'd streamlined the emo-metal that Cave In accidentally invented on "Crossbearer," and that the band's hardcore-purist fans had been lobbying for a return to ever since.

What made Cave In getting dropped from RCA interesting, at least to us, was the introduction of TEMPTATION: for once, there was a real incentive to go back to screamy metalcore. (Not monetary, even: just to show Atreyu and Trivium what's really good.) They even did, for parts of a few songs at least, with bassist Caleb playing the designated-shouter role made famous by Jay Newsted in pre-Dr.-Phil Metallica. They also dug into 'ZLX classic rock (Zep, Sabbath, Floyd) as well as 'FNX classic rock (the Jesus Lizard, Failure, Kyuss), and they permitted themselves the luxury of looking back at what they'd accomplished over the past four records.

In other words, until there is Cave In: Greatest Hits, there's the new Cave In album, Perfect Pitch Black. They began it as pre-production for what would've been RCA #2, but this is not demos. Due out on Hydra Head in September, it's complete. And it's all over the place, in a beautiful way: absent the pressure of re-conceptualizing what it is they do, the disc sounds more like them than ever. It contains their saddest song, "Tension in the Ranks," which is sort of a "Paranoid Android" for bands who've made it through the gilded front door of major labeldom only to watch their A&R rep vanish out the back. And it contains the song we bring you today, which immediately jumped out at us for a couple reasons. One, it is unlike anything else on Perfect Pitch Black. Two, it is unlike anything Cave In have ever done. It's a pop song, maybe; closer to Brodsky's solo folk-psych records, sort of; but with an ingenious arrangement (the bass filter from Metallica's "Orion" meets, like, the electronic rainwater-trickle of Postal Service?).

We get the impression it might be one-of-a-kind: leading up to last week's comeback show at Great Scott, the band was holed up in six-hour-a-day sessions with Converge drummer Ben Koller -- not just to teach him the old songs, but to write a new album. (Two of the new songs made it into the set, and they've fucking heavy; read Sarah Tomlinson's recap here.) Last we heard, J.R.'s still in Germany, and Koller's supposed to be on board for a Cave In tour in October or November. Weirdly enough, Converge just announced tours for those months as well, leading to speculation (by us, anyway) about a repeat Verge-In tour. Stay tuned. And make sure you go buy the album when it comes out next month. Or pre-order it now through Amazon.
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