If you've previously listened to Cave In, then you already know that they're not your average metal band. This Boston quartet is known for their unorthodox approach to aggressive music. Their second full-length effort, "Until Your Heart Stops", is repeatedly praised for successfully combining harsh vocals and searing metal riffs with healthy doses of varied sonic textures and a melodic sensibility seldom found in today's pack of one-dimensional metal bands. The band continued to challenge listeners, releasing the ambitious EP "Creative Eclipses" in 1999. The EP was surprising for many Cave In fans. In addition to their still-present metal roots, the band demonstrated an increasing affinity for subtle melodies, and seemed to discover the power of varied guitar sounds and effects. Regardless of the approach, Cave In's music has never failed to impress. Their innovative offerings have done much to illuminate the darkened corners where aggressive music and thoughtful melodies conspire to attack listeners from all angles.
In July of 2000, Cave In released their latest full-length album, Jupiter. The name alone is a good indication of another musical evolution within the band, one that cannot be ignored. This is not a metal album. I'll repeat that; Jupiter is not a metal album. In fact, there are very few trademark Cave In elements on Jupiter, and certainly some of their older fans will be confused. Hopefully, when the confusion subsides, fans will quickly see this album for what it is - a brilliant, emotional, and captivating journey through the secondary roads of modern music.
There will undoubtedly be comparisons made to Radiohead, due to a few "space rock" sounding passages on the album. However, such comparisons are neither fair to Cave In, nor Radiohead for that matter, because the two are distinctly different. Jupiter has a refreshingly raw sound, and without the presence of effect-laden guitar riffs, would bare little resemblance to the aforementioned band's work. With the drums pounding away in the background, the passionate vocals and textured guitars create dynamic harmonies not easily forgotten. Haunting melodies slowly ripple over a jagged rock landscape. Also assisting the musicians is a great production job and solid engineering. Too many albums these days have a glossy and over-produced sound that prevents the actual musical content (take note Full Sail grads) from conveying sincerity and/or conviction. Jupiter's production is dead on.
There honestly aren't any bad songs on Jupiter. Any weaker portions of the album are easily compensated for by the sheer ambition and energy present in each tune. Highlights include "In The Stream Of Commerce" which features a majestic descending vocal/guitar riff. "Big Riff" is a dynamic ride that really showcases all aspects of Cave In's current style. Interestingly enough, the song contains the only "screamed" vocals on the entire album (previously a Cave In trademark). Who cares. The vocalist (Stephen Brodsky) is more than competent, and has a great sense of when to yell, and when to keep it cool. The last track, "New Moon", is an emotional and superb composition. The last 90 seconds of the song (and the album) are amazing.
Perhaps the album is so intriguing because of Cave In's past. Yes, they've displayed brief hints of things to come on previous efforts (especially the Creative Eclipses EP), but nothing this dramatic. The music is relatively easy to get into, yet contains enough complexity and depth to keep you coming back for more, which is totally unlike most instantly gratifying albums. The music alone nearly has enough power to carry the album, but throw in some solid vocals, and this one is tough to beat.
I'm a big fan of heavy-ass music, but I can also appreciate good music when I hear it. Jupiter is a great album, straight up, and those of you not willing to give it a chance are doing yourselves a disservice. Cave In fans, new and old, should have little difficulty digesting this one.