Cave In – Tides of Tomorrow

4 out of 5

Label: Hydra Head

Produced by: Andrew Schneider

“The reality check is in the mail.” – Christ, I can never not roll my eyes at this clunker, and the over-seriousness of the line delivery is really (and maybe always) what’s held back my opinion of Cave In, directly and indirectly. This isn’t just a take formed prior to when the group was making its major label debut, with this EP their “farewell” to indie label Hydra Head: going back to their debut, some kind of mixed-up identity plagued the group, wanting to be hardcore kids and some nebulous, holier-than-thou “other” at the same time, an agenda that they pushed and pushed until their final form – Antenna, which I actually kinda liked more than the half-steps – failed, and then they retreated kinda back to hardcore.

So I can’t necessarily blame singer Steve Brodsky for playing into this mentality with his (by my holier-than-thou standards) high school poetry lyrics, but it would also seem to go hand-in-hand, the flourishes developing in tandem. Cave In, of course, isn’t the only perpetrator of this type of approach, but they’re the one I’m reviewing; plus, it’s how this aspect of their music sits within its other facets; again, the mixed-up identity vibe. I think this is where Antenna kinda worked, as, paired with an arena-music making producer – Rich Costey – the puzzle piece mostly felt like they linked together. Tides of Tomorrow is mostly a great step in that direction, and is even tighter, musically, with Andrew Schneider’s beefy boards-work and the group likely wanting to “prove” to their Hydra Head audience that they could still rock producing some of their most satisfyingly tight songs compositionally, pretty much all meeting the mark of Antenna’s great singles.

But those lyrics still dog them, and along with that is this need for the lyrics to be “heard” at some level beyond that of just letting the music connect with the listener as it pleases them; no, you should be listening to this, full intention, ears open to a Statement. When the group / Brodsky can let this go, such as the title track, which is a really pleasant, dopey pop song, it’s near perfection… but, y’know, they kinda then overcompensate with nineteen rock solos at the end of the song, because we’re still all angry and stuff.

Going back, though, you’ll note the rating: whereas Cave In’s musical navel-gazing has previously just embellished what I consider as this negative trait, Tides of Tomorrow is dialed in. Every track hits its riff; every track has its peak. It’s an EP, and unlike Creative Eclipses, there’s no longer some need to get all wiggedy-spacey with things, as the group had RCA calling, so it gets in and out, very efficient, very catchy, i.e. I sing along with that stupid-ass lyric every time.