Cavity – Supercollider (Hydra Head reissue)

4 out of 5

Label: Hydra Head

Produced by: Jeremy Du Bois (engineered by), Daniel Gorostiaga, Ryan Weinstein (remixed by)

I remember the first time I put on Supercollider – my first Cavity record – and feeling like I was so far behind the times, because Hydra Head, who’d rereleased the album, were already champions of some mighty scene stalwarts – Cave In, Botch – and here was another group we could surely all agree deserved to be celebrated as masters of what they did. 

And not that Cavity doesn’t obviously have their fans (the fact that HH was rereleasing things in the first place should make that clear), but as I started poking around reviews, there seemed to be a lot of ambivalence: like, Supercollider is sludge metal, and apparently there can only be a few kings of sludge metal, starting with Pantera, so the consensus was – Cavity ain’t no Pantera. 

Well, sure. They are not Pantera. They are different. 

Supercollider stands as one of the heaviest, angry albums I’ve ever heard; sludge is right, with a burly low end buzz and slow, crawling blasts of guitar and drums while Anthony Vialon (stepping in for Rene Barge) wails atop. But it’s also, somehow, one of the “cleanest” discs I’ve heard, relative to the scene, in terms of focus and intent: songs don’t lurch and lumber without reason, and then lyrics walk a straight line, neither aiming for poetics or tired angry anthems (there’s even, like, an almost love song??). This, to me, beyond the blistering performances – that Cavity somehow make sludge feel punky – is what’s differentiated the group, and maybe where their detractors felt justified: while I admit there’s maybe technically nothing new on Supercollider, it is one of the most condensed, streamlined versions of slow and grimy rock I’ve heard, punched up further by the inclusion of some straight hardcore / rock, and deepened by some moments of ambience. 

That said, the album can move awfully quick due to that streamlining: the shorter songs are of a get-in / get-out variety that has them starting and stopping without much intro or conclusion; they definitely don’t hit as hard as the slow burners. 

But they stick in your head; I don’t see how the whole album doesn’t have that same, arresting effect, and twenty years on from first hearing Supercollider, I still get blown away by its intensity.