By the late '90s, hardcore's roots in punk and thrash had taken a backseat to a by-the-numbers formula of rehashed Slayer breakdowns that focused less on talent and innovation than on a will to stomp. However, throughout the mid-'90s, Cave In bandmates had been hammering out new ideas in the basements of their Methuen, Massachusetts homes. Beyond Hypothermia, released in early '98, collected many of the group's early releases onto one CD and pointed toward the greatness that was to come later that year on the group's opus, Until Your Heart Stops.
Like scenemates Converge and Botch, Cave In ripped metal and hardcore rhythms apart at the seams, stitching them back together with off-kilter time signatures and unpredictable breakdowns, and finishing things off with guttural screaming born of frustration and anguish. Hardcore listeners converted seemingly overnight, and for a few years Cave In appeared destined to rule the scene.
And then came Jupiter, Cave In's 2000 LP, on which the group abruptly abandoned the whole experiment in favor of a cleaner, simpler, and less-abrasive power-prog mix. Though Jupiter and its major-label follow-up, 2003's Antenna, provide a nice synthesis of Failure-style guitar-squeal and Quicksandesque post-hardcore crunch, both sent once-rabid fans running for the hills, feeling more or less betrayed by Cave In's "artsy" ambition.
It was with great relief, then, that fans received Perfect Pitch Black late this past summer. Vocalist Stephen Brodsky, content to croon away in progged-out bliss for the past four years, has finally started bellowing in true metalcore form again, achieving a nice smooth/rough dynamic on Black. And while the band still seems reluctant to flex its math-metal muscle, it has injected an interesting stoner groove into portions of the album, which should make the band's show at the Grog this Monday one hell of a ride.
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