Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Tuesday 31 May 2022

Reviews: Cave In, Shovel, Smoke, The Bateleurs (Reviews By Rich P)

Cave In - Heavy Pendulum (Relapse Records)

When word of a new Cave In record started trickling out, I was super pumped. I have been a huge fan of the band from the early days, but especially after hearing Jupiter, which was a total game changer for me and to this day is still one on my favorite albums released this century. There was just so much to Jupiter, and so much of a stylistic change that it blew the minds of the rabid fans of the uber-heavy, growling vocal material of their first few releases. After Jupiter I was all in, through the ups and downs, the failed major label releases (which I loved), and then back to form on the independent scene, Cave In has never released a bad album and has been a staple in my heavy music listening for over twenty years. Now the prospects of a new record were upon us and knowing what the band has gone though, between growing up and losing a band member and friend, I could only hope that this record would somehow take them to new heights, even with the bar set so high given their catalog.

Well, Heavy Pendulum has done that and even more. This record is everything that Cave In fans could possibly want from a new record in 2022. For the fans of the heavier side of the band, you get the amazing opening ripper, New Reality, and the follow up track, Blood Spiller. Mr. Brodsky brings both vocal styles out mixing them perfectly as a call and response in the opener, while delivering the riffs and the heavy. Floating Skulls is right along Jupiter territory, with the sprawling instrumentation and frantic yet contained song structure that always reminds me of the ad I saw for Jupiter in the punk label No Idea’s catalog: “Sounds like Rush and Pink Floyd. Really.” 

Now we know listening to Cave In is not going to give us that experience, but you see where they were going with that considering the early material compared to Jupiter. The title track is another excellent offering that brings you more towards the later material in the catalog, dialing up some of those psych leanings but never abandoning the heavy. Careless Offerings leans towards more straight-ahead heavy rock until towards the end when Brodsky’s screams bring it home. These are just some of the highlights on this 14 track, 71-minute journey, which for some just starting with Cave In may find the length a bit overwhelming, so be prepared to spend some time with this record. But it is so worth it.

This record is epic. There is something for every Cave In fanatic on Heavy Pendulum. The ultra-heavy early stuff. The Jupiter-esque prog/psych leaning material. The more commercial Antenna era heavy alt-rock. The “return to form” era Cave In when they started to combine more of the Jupiter and early days stuff. You get it all, and you get it all in its best form. But even if you have never heard Cave In before you can start with Heavy Pendulum and work backwards. It’s that good. Album of the year candidate for sure. 9/10

Shovel - Shovel (Argonauta Records)

A band called Shovel sounds like a 90s second tier grunge band. But that is not what this Shovel is. These guys come in and rip your head off immediately. Frantic, swirling heavy guitars with scream/shouted vocals, some cool psych effects, and an overall frantic vibe that is very hard to pin down. Sludge, I guess if I had to give it a label (and they agree in their bio) but there is a lot more going on here. I hear some black metal, some hardcore, and some psych doom vibes to make their debut album an exciting and brutal listen. The Berlin four piece bring the heavy riffs for sure, but there is also an undertone of heavy psych that is always following around the seven tracks on their debut self-titled LP.

Shovel is not for the faint of heart, and the vocals are what will keep some people away. But a song like V. Maere is so damn heavy it cannot be ignored or denied. But there are also layers of sounds going on behind the screams that you must listen closely for. You will hear new things every listen, like the intricate guitar work and killer drumming. You must be in the right frame of mind for this album, or it may overwhelm you. But if you are looking for a soundtrack to smash, here you go. 

The solo on ViScars Of A Dark Past is killer, and the dual vocals sounds like a very metal version of early Hot Water Music (if you don’t know HWM please go listen to one of their first two records). Hardcore vibes shine through on I. The Void. Slow, sludgy hardcore riffs ripping your head clean off. But the guitar work is both heavy and subtle, with some sounds that you may not expect on such a heavy beast, but again, you must really pay attention to the nuance. Fans of Neurosis or ISIS may dig a track like III. The Fall Of The Sun. Heavy stuff for sure.
Shovel is not going to be for everyone. You must be able to handle the vocals. But if you are OK with the scream/howl and can listen to the details of their debut, I think you will hear something unique and enjoyable, especially if your idea of fun is smashing some shit. Lots of good stuff going on here if you are a fan of the very heavy sludge stuff. 7/10

Smoke - The Mighty Delta Of Time (Argonauta Records)

There are a lot of bands called Smoke. There is even a Smoke that put out an album this year (Groupthink, it’s excellent). There are also a lot of bands doing what this Smoke is doing; bluesy stoner rock that claims to be right out of the swamps of the Delta. What there are not as many of are bands who do it well/creatively and even less who claim to be right out of the Delta swamps but are actually from the Netherlands. I have never been, but I am not sure there are a lot of gators in Amsterdam. What there is a lot of is the green stuff from which these guys get their name and has influenced the stoner grooves that Smoke is peddling. But it is not all cush and roses on their debut. 

The first full track, Lineage, has some sweet slide guitar work and does set off those bluesy vibes they are going for. Now if the whole album was like that, I may be on board for their press description of “Psychedelic Swamp Rock’. But what you get next with a track like Bereft is more along the lines of stoner grunge than psych blues. Now it is executed well, but there seems to be a bit of an identity crisis happening here. These guys are all in on the Delta persona stuff, with one of the band members calling himself “CajunKai”. But I think “Seattle Steve” may be more appropriate as the grunge vibes are strong on tracks like RiverbendMotion, and Time. I like it, but it is not swamp rock. It is a stoner grunge album with a song that has some swampy vibes. That is not a harsh criticism of the quality here. 

This is a solid debut offering, but sometimes your press release can be your worst nightmare and trying to pigeonhole yourself into a category and not delivering can be your downfall. I find it interesting that Smoke is so all in on the Delta Blues stuff. I hear way more of bands like Curse The Son and Seattle bands that you know and love. If these guys embrace who they are and try not to put labels on themselves, I think they can take this to the next level. But for now, this was an enjoyable listen for what it is. 6/10

The Bateleurs - The Sun In The Tenth House (Milana Musica Records)

Damn, that voice! That was my first response to when the first track on the debut full length from Lisbon, Portugal’s The Bateleurs blasted out of my system. Vocalist Sandrine Orsini has an amazing, soulful voice that makes you stop and take notice. Her pipes fit perfectly with the blues rock goodness that the ten tracks on The Sun In The Tenth House are bringing. Obviously influenced by US blues rock and American soul, the four-piece sound like they are from Detroit or Nashville, not their (mostly) native Portugal. The first track blew me away, but can they keep this up for the whole forty-five minutes of their debut?

The answer is they sure can. That first track Nine Lives To Waste is a blue rock ripper with that voice up front but an absolute killer band backing her, who really understand how to play the blues rock that we all know and love. Tracks like Rise Above The Storm feature that voice but also brings the funk with some nifty bass and a killer bluesy groove. Revolution Blues has Orsini’s voice go to even different places while the band behind her just blasts their way through some heavy blues rock that will get everyone up and moving. 

You get some obvious White Stripes/Jack White vibes musically, especially on a track like I’ll Go All The Way, especially recent Jack with his live band (that totally rips). I have mentioned the voice a lot, bit the band is super tight as well brings a crunch to the blues rock that takes it to the next level. One issue is there seems to be unnecessary reverb or effects on Orsini’s voice that starts to get a bit too noticeable as the album goes on but does not change the fact that this album is killer.

If you like powerful, soulful female vocals with a killer blues rock backing band, go check out The Bateleurs. The Sun In The Tenth House is an excellent debut full length and I expect big things and to hear a lot lore from them. 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment