Cave In - Perfect Pitch Black
Hydra Head
Alt-Metal, Post-Hardcore
10 songs (41:27)
Release year: 2005
Hydra Head
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

The tragic death of Caleb Scofield, bassist and vocalist for Cave In (and Old Man Gloom) in a car accident in March at just 39 years of age was a small reminder of mortality even to those of us, like myself, who only knew the man through his music. It's hard enough to process the deaths of those we respect from a distance; family bereavements hit even harder, and it's especially sad that Scofield left behind two young children and a wife. All words are inadequate in such circumstances; the best I can offer is this archive review, a month late and altogether insignificant in the scheme of things.

Following their major label experiment with 2003's Antenna, Cave In were feeling distinctly unsatisfied, too much time and money and label control spent on an album that pleased critics but severely displeased fans of their earlier work. They started to write heavier material, annoying then-label RCA who outright refused to release what would become Perfect Pitch Black, but allowed the band ownership rights to the demos and Cave In duly returned to Hydra Head. And it resulted in an album that wasn't so much a return to form (as a fan, I don't believe they've made a bad album) as a return to a previous sound, albeit one updated and reenergised. Dropping the commercial feel of the Antenna era, returning to Jupiter and adding a touch of the hardcore energy and experimental vibe of Until Your Heart Stops; Perfect Pitch Black should be easy to sum up but it isn't. The World Is in Your Way mixes the space rock-influences of Jupiter with the stomping hardcore aggression of the band's debut almost perfectly, the angular riffs suitable to both worlds while the interplay of vocalists Stephen Brodsky (clean) and Caleb Scofield (harsh) works very well indeed.

Cave In's two worlds fuse together perfectly, whichever is given dominance; the downright whimsical almost indie rock vocal style of Off to Ruin is muscled up by the heavy metal riffs, like a heavier Queens of the Stone Age, while straightforward grooving aggression in the form of Trepanning gets an infectious clean-sung chorus and a proggy little trade-off between the guitarists. Yet this is more than just A plus B - there's as much rock'n'roll in the guitars as there is the hardcore of yore, as the likes of the bass-heavy Droned and the early-Radiohead-esque Tension in the Ranks show. Longest track present Paranormal opens with Brodsky's yearning vocals atop almost Pink Floydian atmospheric rocking that verges on the psychedelic, interrupted by post-metal chugging a la Isis, all fitting together smoothly.

Ataraxia's math metal instrumental and all-acoustic Down the Drain are solid other picks, far from filler, the latter especially interesting for its Oasis-y vibe and glimpse of an alternate universe where Cave In did become as big as the Foo Fighters! Instead, the band retained their adventurous and ambitious nature and continued to make each album distinct, the changes in sound from each album alone fascinating. Even if, like some, you dismiss Perfect Pitch Black as a set of b-sides, it's remarkable just how good the band were at songwriting, the closing one-two of Tension in the Ranks and Screaming in Your Sleep as good as anything before. As much as I enjoy the band's early and later stages individually, there's no denying that in combining the two they'd hit on something special, and Perfect Pitch Black is a tremendous first exploration of this.

Killing Songs :
The World Is in Your Way, Trepanning, Paranormal, Down the Drain, Droned
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Cave In that we have reviewed:
Cave In - Final Transmission reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Cave In - Antenna reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Cave In - Jupiter reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Cave In - Until Your Heart Stops reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
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