Cave In – Jupiter

4 out of 5

Label: Hydra Head

Produced by: Cave In, Kurt Ballou

We heard the long-ass, spacey, proggy segue on Until Your Heart Stops; deny its flow-killing nature we might, but it was still a bold addition to a mathcore disc, catapulting the Boston scene everyone was hyping into something you could brag about to your Sonic Youth friends.  Stephen Brodsky had arrived in the band, and changes were to come.  Those joining after this point might level their gaze at Antenna as when the group stepped out and did the whole straight-forward rock thing, but, really, once the lineup solidified, it was always there, the group peeling off the metal artifice a layer at a time.  (And then, finding it cold out in the rocky wastelands of major labels, putting it back on…)

Besides, perhaps, alienating some of their fanbase – unjustifiably, as Antenna may actually rock harder than their first full-length foray into similar territory on this here album, Jupiter – the other direct downside to going that soundy route was that now that we could understand Brodsky, singing as he was as opposed to growls, we could hear his really cheesy, life-affirming lyrics.  Those are fully in place on Jupiter.  Combine that with some unwise attempts at maintaining some “we’re still on Hydra Head” metal affectations, and you get the humorous mash-up of Brodsky falsetto and Kurt Ballou shouty shouts on Terminal Deity.  So I have a hard time taking the album seriously, when I feel like it really, really wants me to.

But guess what?  Compositionally, the attention this record received was spot-freaking-on.  Heart Stop’s indulgences were curtailed: every moment on Jupiter contributes to a whole sound, which does inhabit the beyond-the-stars vibe of the album title, goosed by the band’s and Ballou’s production, which just knows how to make these instruments sound both weighty and capable of flight at the same time; how to allow Brodsky to soar with the sound and not be overwhelmed by, or weighed down by it.  The Beatles-y light-handedness of the Creative Eclipses EP is also thankfully shunted for a full group sound.  Brodsky could save that stuff for his solo work.  And though I’ve praised Jupiter for being more directly rocking – more willing to shift into a riff than Jupiter – the group really pushed the whole rockin’-Radiohead thing on that album, which bloated it a bit; Jupiter doesn’t suffer that, even with songs stretching out to six minute – and one nine minute – marks.

If the lyrics could just be a little less high school poetry…  But ah well.  It was hard to “hear” Jupiter at the time, knowing its Spin-magazine presence.  Turns out that sometimes those major label cats know what the hell’s up, though!