Monday, August 26, 2013

Caves Of Glass - Caves Of Glass (2013)

There is a danger is using Bandcamp as a vessel for your music, and it lies in the tags at the bottom of the page. You can select any number of descriptive words to describe your music, covering every genre and sub genre of music known to man, and probably some that haven't been fully understood yet. But there must be care taken; choose wisely, or you will misrepresent yourself to prospective fans and haters alike. Caves of Glass are not short on talent or dedication. A true global band, with contributions coming from both sides of the pond, this six piece collaboration may only fall short in one way. Their choice of tags has set a bar that their music simply cannot clear. With genre tags ranging from experimental to drone, post metal to post rock, and the ambiguous progressive metal rounding it out, you would be hard pressed to guess what their music truly sounded like. And after five songs, and over 40 minutes of sound and little fury, you might be just as confused by album's end as you were at the beginning. 

Dark ambient sounds help to make the first big splash on "The Hollow," while massive drum beats push them through your speakers. What arises, here and throughout the album, is a bizarre mix of driving post metal and atmospheric background noise, which manage to both mix and repel each other at different moments. Here, that form a single wave, sometimes pushing the limits of a good mix. The counterpoint to all of this comes in two forms; there are a wildly adventurous guitar lead stashed in the mid section, which, while brilliantly played, becomes the straw that broke the production camel's back. Sporadically, an unintelligible vocal pokes through, adding little more than a layer of noise. There are moments when it all comes together, such as the booming portion that comes after the eight minute mark. Built much like the previous track, "Gone From Oceania" has a very clear beginning, middle and end. The electronic tinges of the opening are well conceived, despite becoming the platform for an industrial vocal effect that only highlights the lack of depth in songwriting. The sweeping melodies, courtesy of keyboards and synths, are enjoyable from the interlude perspective, but never truly get beyond that, minus a emotional outro. For a four minute plus track, little is going on from movement to movement.

By now, it becomes harder to reconcile where this album stands on the spectrum of all things metal, often drifting so far into the electronic ambient music side. There is beauty to be found in "Mariana," but it is a subtle, sedated beauty. It would be better suited to an art rock band. It isn't until nearly the six minute mark that you hear any true metal element, and even then, it is sparing at best. Even the high pitched whines of guitar that open "Barren Earth" are difficult to take at face value. You know what you want them to be; the beginning of a bombastic, distorted guitar assault. But applying your wants to reality is less successful, with the track barely getting above a simmer until well into the seventh minute. What arises here, though, is what you had been waiting for since you had hit the play button. With guitar chugging and sliding along, and a loud, reckless bashing of the drum kit, you find a more crushing band, ready to explode at any minute. The blast, however imminent it may seem, never comes. As you fade out of "Barren Earth" and into "The End," melodies take over, and light electronics come to the front of the mix. It is satisfying in it's own way, if not the way you had hoped.

Caves Of Glass, and their debut album, provide another exercise for their listeners; it is one of separating what we want and expect to hear, from what is actually there. By no means can we indict the album, citing any lack of quality or creative expression. Those elements are clearly and diligently present. But where the album falls short is where it lands in the wide world of metal. That is to say, by and large, it doesn't. You can isolate moments and say that they do have some of the tenets of metal, whether it be in the distorted guitars or screaming vocals. But those moments, however few and far between they are, simply can't take precedent over everything else you've heard. The use of electronics, ranging from keyboards to synths, is nothing short of masterful, and the soundscapes created are rich and enjoyable on so many levels. But if you want to market yourself to the new wave of modern metal fan, there has to be more than a few blaring excerpts to make your name stick.


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