Massachusetts’ Cave In were pioneers of the math-metal hardcore movement of the mid-nineties, along with pals Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Botch but by the early aughts the band had abandoned their aggression and drifted off into a land of space rock and soaring vocals. Their style change landed them on RCA records and on bills with Foo Fighters and Muse.Their metamorphosis didn’t last long as they began experimenting with their metal influences on stage. They parted ways with RCA and soon released Perfect Pitch Black–a collision between their space rock influences, Queens of the Stone Age-styled desert rock and their hardcore roots. While earning critical acclaim the band never earned the sizeable followings their peers did –perhaps due to their constantly shifting style. Mutoid Man finds lead singer Stephen Brodsky in a nasty trio with Converge drummer Ben Coller. The group’s’ first two releases combined southern rock twang with hardcore aggression and Brodsky’s earworm melodies. War Moans is the the longest album the band have attempted to date and features the strongest songwriting, and best guitar performance of Brodsky’s career. Opener “Melt Your Mind” comes off like a Bad Religion song in a fight with Slayer album. “Kiss of Death” is a storming pop-metal kiss-off track–that lands somewhere between Queen’s “Death on Two Legs” and Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning.” Surprisingly War Moans delivers the kind of cohesive feel that some Cave In albums struggled to find. That single element is fun. Imagine the sass and finesse of Queens of the Stone Age album delivered by a late 80’s/early 90’s Metallica. There’s no reason to think about this one–just bang your head.
Full of Hell
It isn’t exactly clear whether Full of Hell are a grind band with brains, a doom band determined to play at blazing speeds, or a noise band obsessed with the finding the limits of the electric guitar. Their output is confounding. Their last few longer efforts have been two densely composed experimental team-up projects–one with Portland’s overlords of sludge The Body and the other with Japanese noise project Merzbow. Both of those efforts were particularly heady, technically amazing and atmospheric. Trumpeting Ecstasy is not heady, it isn’t atmospheric. It is a blazing, unrelenting, blitzkrieg of uncompromising grindcore and doom that clocks in at 23 minutes. It is also a frontrunner for best metal album of the year. It leaves you wanting more and wondering what the future holds. Will we see the intellectual side of the band on their next solo release? Is that something they save for their work with other bands? Who are Full of Hell, really? One of the most quixotic and exciting bands in metal today.