Cave In - White Silence
Released: May 25, 2011 Hydra Head
White Silence marks an important chapter in the return from dormancy for Massachusetts experimental alt-metal kings Cave In. True, the band issued the spastically heavy, proggy EP Planets Of Old in 2009, but White Silence is their first long-player in almost six years. Even that last full-length, 2005's warmly received Perfect Pitch Black,was more or less a collection of demos RCA Records—the label for which they issued just one LP, 2003's Antenna—rejected (albeit a sonically nuanced, cohesively assembled and impressively written collection of demos).
As longtime fans have learned, Cave In don’t dwell on one style for long. Having evolved from moshy metalcore workouts to anthemic space rock to some wild combination thereof, White Silence is merely another logical extension of Cave In doing whatever the fuck Cave In want to do. The opening title track commences with a cartoony guitar riff that perhaps resembles a Nintendo-era end-level boss theme; then the song comes in blasted by static and fuzz, finding frontman Stephen Brodsky screaming in a strangely scratchy growl unlike ever before (or for the rest of White Silence, for that matter). It's practically Cave In-gone-black metal. But then "Serpents" is drawn in, and it's just a punishing, thumping monster led by Caleb Scofield's warrior-worthy roar, with a hint of the piercing guitar tone the band first ushered in on 1999's Creative Eclipses EP. While that might sound like Perfect Pitch Black Pt. 2 to some, there's a strangely unsettling atmosphere and newly refreshed intensity to it all—sure, a bit like their early metalcore period, but renewed by something faster and fresher, sort of what the band went for on "Dead Already," the A-side to their 2005 cassingle.
The furthest Cave In step away from that bottomed-out beat is "Reanimation," which finds Brodsky finishing the album by reconstructing a layered, Pink Floyd-inspired acoustic buildup into a modest climax. Generally speaking, though, White Silence finds Cave In at the heaviest point of their career since 1998’s Until Your Heart Stops—and easily at their noisiest and most experimental. There's a clustered, swirling, futuristic atmosphere to White Silence flowing through every heavy, propelled stomp ("Summit Fever") or throttled tempo ("Centered")—and every proggy ("Sing My Loves") or psychedelic flourish ("Heartbreaks, Earthquakes"). Admittedly, the band's stubborn, endless sprawl loses some of its luster every now and then, and much of "Iron Decibels" reeks of ’70s hard-rock cheese.
Still, White Silence largely works. The anthemic, epic thump of the album's longest track, the eight-minute "Sing My Loves," is where the atmosphere is best composed, with Brodsky laying out the central hook insistently beneath a bed of distortion. It's an early indicator that even 16 years into a storied career, Cave In not only still have it—they're continually redefining what "it" actually is.