Caverns – We Lied

Caverns - We Lied

Caverns - We Lied

Caverns, a usually heavy math-rock band out of DC, has taken a small change in direction with the followup to its album Kittens. The band hasn’t lost the intensity of that last release (or its live show — something to behold) as much as re-channeled it. We Lied is a comparatively subdued take on what Caverns has become known for, having shared the stage with Dillinger Escape Plan and now touring with Clutch. There are fewer explosive moments but there’s more of a focus on theme development.

The trio (drums, guitar, and keyboards) has moved beyond the crash-bang pyrotechnics that marked earlier material. Now incorporating samples and even vocals, the once-instrumental music now has electronics filling its spaces. Take “Arctic Phantoms,” which begins with canned beats and foreboding chords. It has a building tension to it, by way of its minor-key keyboard melody and syncopated acoustic drums. It never fully actualizes that tension, though, even as it pulls out the power chords after the bridge. It’s a frustration of formula.

“I. Fight. Vampires.” takes a similar path: the medium pace, the warbled and indistinguishable vocals, the loud sections never lapsing into the full-blown (and cliched) “catharsis” that has become the standard formula. And though you might be expecting some sort of craziness from a song called “Surprise!” you won’t find it. It’s Halls of the Machine’s deft guitar work repeating a pattern for the keyboard to expand on. Caverns does work itself into a more emphatic expression of the song’s theme near the end but its restraint is almost as pronounced as its power.

The Caverns of Kittens comes out on “December 21, 2012,” whose changing time signatures and raw rock expressions show that even though the band has introduced space into its sound it hasn’t given up on the power of its last release. There’s more Isis and Pelican going on in the Caverns sound than there used to be, and less of the breakneck, jaw-dropping, turn-on-a-dime virtuosity. It’s the sound of a band reluctant to stick to its old ways when instead it can explore novel expressions around its core sound. What’s that line about sharks? If they stop moving they die? Here’s to wondering where Caverns will take its sound next because, as talented and imaginative as the band is, it’s sure to be worth the trip.