Cave In – Antenna

Cave In

It seems like I wrote this history lesson introduction the last time I sat down and tried to put into words the sound of this remarkable band… “Cave In is a band that has certainly undergone its fair share of change since things began back in 1995. The band made its first impression as a chugging hardcore metal act, with early albums like Beyond Hypothermia and Until Your Heart Stops serving up some severely brutal dishes. But then came the transitional Creative Eclipses, which seemed to come out of nowhere, but lead nicely into the breathtakingly beautiful Jupiter. It was this album that gave birth to the band’s new sound, intricately blending progressive rock, heavy metal, and dreamy pop. Jupiter was also the record that brought Cave In the opportunity to create their forthcoming major label debut with RCA, which has been teased with the Lift Off / Lost in the Air single, and again with the five-song EP that is Tides of Tomorrow.” Well, here we have it, that infamous major label debut.
And this thing, like the beautiful and mind-boggling Jupiter, truly is an epic. Taking things one track at a time, “Stained Silver” opens without wasting any time, ripping into the atmospheric style of progressive rock that Cave In has now perfected: the machine-gun drums, ethereal guitars and vocals, pulsating basslines. This really is enough to give you hope despite the dismal state of rock music. Then comes the grooving, rocking, down-and-dirty “Inspire,” followed by the slower and spacey “Joy Opposites,” which shows off every ounce of astounding talent these boys have, from Stephen Brodsky’s dreamy vocals, to Adam McGrath and Caleb Scofield’s jaw-dropping rhythmic perfection, to John-Robert Conners’ downright unworldly guitar work. “Anchor” is a three-minute burst of what you wish “modern rock” sounded like right now, and what you hope it will someday come to, countered beautifully by the acoustic-tinged prog-rock lullabye that is “Beautiful Son.”
“Seafrost” begins with a peculiarly plucked bassline but builds over the span of nine minutes into a marathon rock creature built of widely assorted elements. “Rubber and Glue” is another gritty and driving rocker that clocks in at a tidy less than four minutes, while “Youth Overrided” and “Breath of Water” are both lengthier, slightly more lulling, and absolutely breathtaking five-minute rock ballads. “Lost in the Air” already appeared on the Hydrahead “Lift Off / Lost in the Air” single, but it sounds a little different here and is worth hearing again. “Penny Racer” is another driving but pretty rocker that could deliver a swift kick to anything on the radio right now, while the lengthier “Woodwork” is the sort of lush and atmospheric rock song that, if you turn off the lights, slap on the headphones, and do nothing but listen, could transport you to another world entirely.
Antenna follows up on the trend gradually built by Cave In’s previous releases, meaning that the songs are less wandering, more trimmed and primed for a larger audience. And yet, the band has also maintained its own identity and created something it can be proud of without being worried about being called major label sellouts or anything of the sort. There are multiple songs here that are more than deserving of radio play and massive exposure, and the world would be a better place if that happened. On the other hand, there are also sprawling moments like the aforementioned “Seafrost,” which allow the band to really spread its wings. The focus may be tighter and the refinement may be a little more obvious, but such things don’t hold the band back on Antenna; rather they further the progress that has been showing itself with every Cave In release.
In all honesty, enough positive things can’t be said about this particular listening experience. If you are any sort of Cave In fan, or a fan of rock music in general, this is an absolutely necessary addition to your record collection.