Signed to RCA in 2001, Cave In rides in on a torrent of controversy over their new album and first major-label release, Antenna. Is it really possible for the hardcore band that made Beyond Hypothermia to create a quality, true-to-its-indie-roots album with big money and a big label behind them, or has Cave In sold their musical souls to RCA? Lucky for us, Antenna confirms that you can work with a big label, make some money and still make good music – turns out you don’t have to starve to rock.
Beyond Hypothermia, the first release, put out by Hydra Head in 1999, by this Massachusetts sextet, made people take notice of this style-shifting, Radiohead-influenced band that was rocking the underground Boston music scene, toying with trash metal, free-jazz sounds and intense ambience. Cave In’s fan base grew after they released Jupiter on Hydra Head in 2000, which incorporated a new space-rock sound. And now Cave In has put together a radio-friendly album that still holds onto its roots and teeth but also shows the band, with its new toned-down guitar, improved vocals and meaningful lyrics, is a future force to be reckoned with.
The first four songs are the most reminiscent of their metal-core background. “Stained Silver” almost comes across as a defense for the album: “Pop culture with a pin / Watch it wheeze in the air like a dying balloon / A mistake dawned on me / And the rest of my tribe ‘Your wish is our command.'”
Vocalist Stephen Brodsky takes it down a notch in the soulful “Beautiful Son” and the rest of the album from this point is less interesting. The production quality is high, but there is nothing with the power of “Until Your Heart Stops” off the 1999 release of the same name, which is still one of their most distinguishable song accomplishments.
Cave In has proved that they have staying power, but what will be interesting is where they go from here. While they could have teetered on disappointing their hardest rocking fans with Antenna, it appears that, in exploring different styles, they might have found their niche. The music on this release is radio-friendly, but it is also has strong vocals, strong lyrics and strong instrumentals, and shows that Cave In has not fallen down the mineshaft.