Cave In – Jupiter

Cave In

It’s really rare for a rock band to truly break out of a rut. After all, there are so many bands that just barely scrape by in their respective genres. It would be nearly implausible to expect most bands to competently perform in a different genre. It is for this very reason that nearly all tribute albums suck. I mean, how many people out there have that Pixies tribute in constant rotation? Be honest. You’re even less likely to see a hardcore band break out of the mold. After all, hardcore might be the single most restrictive genre straightjacket. I’d be willing to bet that there are at least a few hardcore guitarists who couldn’t even play a full chord. To be fair, Cave In, a math-core band who’ve released one full length and one EP prior to this, have shown somwhat more promise than an average hardcore band. Despite this, I never would have expected the quartet to go further than an occasional foray into melody.
With Jupiter, Cave In not only not only rival Radiohead for the biggest stylistic change of the year, they release one of the most interesting rock albums of the year. Sure, some elements of their past still show their face – “Big Riff” finds singer/guitarist Stephen Brodsky growling a bit, and the band still sees the need to get a little heavy – but those things are found in scarce quantities on this album. Fortunately, they retain hardcore’s most important element: tight, bombastic rhythms that drive the songs off that ground and into the stratosphere. But instead of just churning power chords over these rhythms, Cave In layer winding guitar lines and celestial lyrics to stunning effect.
“Jupiter” opens the album with Eastern-styled verses that explode into big, stadium rock choruses. “In the Stream of Commerce” and “Innuendo and Out the Other” both twist and swirl like Tool, and Brodsky, no longer grunting his way about, turns the songs into gorgeous disasters with his newfound tenor range. “Brain Candle” mixes radio rock tempo with a heavy, intense breakdown that will leave you in awe. “Requiem” is a nine-plus minute epic that keeps things interesting with an impending heaviness that eventually bubbles over. “New Moon” plays the loud/soft dynamics, morphing from a pretty acoustic ballad to Brodsky screaming, “Hold my gaze” over an explosion of guitars. “Decay of the Delay” is a listenable instrumental that showcases some impressive guitar work. The song that best encapsulates Cave In’s new sound is the incredible “Big Riff.” The bracing seven-minute rocker runs the gamut from screaming verses to big choruses to Brodsky crooning, “You’re another coat of red in hell” during an affected melodic finale. When everything shakes out, it’s one of the best songs I heard during 2000, period.
It’s not my place to contemplate Cave In’s stylistic change, though I welcome it with open arms. This album combines the swirling verses of Tool, the big choruses of the Smashing Pumpkins, all the lyrical star-gazing of Hum and the patchwork songwriting of Fugazi. If even one of those bands graces your CD player very often, you might want to check out Cave In. Because, through all the genre hopping, shifting dynamics and actual songcraft, this band has crafted a really magnificent album.