City of Caterpillar – S/T

Most great albums come out rolling about with critical praise (and, of course, harsh nit-picking) and will ride that wave of proportioned excitement until an even better album comes out. Then, as it always does, the previous record ends up forgotten on a dorm room floor or used CD bin at your local record store. It’s always been that simple. Hardly anyone talks about Kid A anymore; they’re too busy raving about Source Tags and Codes. Some albums strive to sit on the money spot of people’s top-10 lists and some strive to sell and some just long to be memorable in the least bit. Almost every album ever released anywhere at any point wants to be, or is, one of these things.
Yet, intentional or not, City of Caterpillars’ self-titled album is something just very different. It’s not the best album of the year, it’s not going to sell a million copies, you may not even remember it in five years. But right now it exists simply as a very very good sign of things to come.
If you’ve been looking, you’ve probably heard more unique bands in the last two years than you have in your entire life. Yet at the same time hardcore music has been dumbed down, metal bands disappeared entirely, indie music went mainstream, and ’emo’ has lost any trace of a meaning it once had. So who is standing out in the sea of mediocre bands? The innovative ones who take their music to the next illogical step. City of Caterpillar doesn’t exist somewhere between the new modern experimental ‘classical’ music and screamed math-y emotional hardcore, they decided to make their home at both ends of the spectrum simultaneously.
This debut is at points more Come On Die Young-era Mogwai (“Minute Hour Day Week Month Year”) than Godspeed You Black Emperor (“Maybe They’ll Gnaw Right Through”), and vice versa. During its more blisteringly tight indulgences into their trademark post-hardcore Molotov-rock-tails, it’s honestly almost too much to handle. There is long tension and there is sudden release. On many occasions, without warning, the whole structure and feel of the song will switch, and suddenly you’re disoriented and looking for the surface while layers of frantic percussive noise will hide the quiet guitars below.
While bands like the kings of mediocrity Dashboard Confessional pander to emotion, this album rips it raw right out of you and holds it above your head and just keeps running. It’s wonderfully panicked, it’s edgy, it’s very difficult, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. But ask yourself this: when was the last time a hardcore album was described as being gorgeous?