Review Summary: The first release from Cave In is an underrated compilation that deserves the attention of any true metalcore fanatic.
I walk to my computer. I turn it on. Once it finishes booting, I proceed to open the “iTunes” application. I scroll to Massachusetts alternative/metalcore band Cave In, and I double-click the first track off of their debut “Beyond Hypothermia”, called “Crossbearer”. I am then astounded by the fact that this album only has 55 votes.
Following their formation, Cave In started off by doing splits with underground metal bands similar to their style, until they were satisfied enough with their material to make a compilation/album called “Beyond Hypothermia”, which was a collection of various songs that the band had written up to that point. The fact that the album is comprised of various demos from different years and while different members worked within the band can actually be a slight downfall; the album itself lacks the cohesion of a normal record, and the change of style/sound between some of the earlier written and later songs is definitely noticeable. Despite this, the album has too many positive qualities and killer tracks to be overlooked as a whole.
The first song (and my personal favorite), “Crossbearer” gives you a taste of what Cave In is all about. Intricate hardcore riffing (including fantastic dual leads), atypical song structure, thunderous metalcore vocals (that will remind some of The Dillinger Escape Plan), desperate cleans, and the constant assortment of muddy amplifiers roaring the background. Any fan of Converge, Botch or Skycamefalling would definitely be impressed by the stylistic approach of “Beyond Hypothermia”. “Crossbearer” is the most memorable song on the album, as the jarring intro, melodic clean vocal section, and vast array of striking metalcore riffs come together as one, organized slab of metalcore madness. The chugging hooks and chaotic vocals never leave your head. “Crossbearer” is an infectious, metalcore classic.
The most distinct aspect of “Beyond Hypothermia”, besides key track “Crossbearer” are the totally badass, grooving thrash riffs that establish a leading presence in almost every song. “Chameleon” the second song on the album, is a mini-epic that combines malicious guitar attacks with an enormous, classic style metalcore breakdown to create 6 minutes of hardcore bliss. “Pivotal”, another highlight, is built around a shattering, high pitched dual lead and a colossal, reverb frenzy/experimental section that never fails to make my jaw drop. “Flypaper”, a song which many Cave In fans consider to be a classic, features an insanely tight tap-on/pull-off combo riff that any guitar player would drool over. Literally any track on this record, even those that aren’t great songs by themselves, can all be noted for virtuoso metal/hardcore punk riffs.
Another noteworthy characteristic of “Beyond Hypothermia” is the constant dabbling with reverb crazy, sludgy sounding dynamics. Similar classic metalcore bands like Knut and Converge perfected dissonant production in their brand of metalcore, and Cave In did a great job with it on this record. Some examples of this dissonance include the old school sounding, amplifier reflections in the intro and midsection of “Capsize”, the first minute and a half of “Flypaper”, and the cacophonous cries in the middle of the lo-fi “Crambone”. While the unprocessed production of “Beyond Hypothermia” might sound awful to the untrained ear, a true musician will be able to appreciate the rawness.
Though riff-tastic and energetic throughout, “Beyond Hypothermia” is far from perfect. Tracks like “Stoic” and “Ritual Famine” do nothing noteworthy at all, and almost stunt the awesomeness of this record each time one of those tracks comes on. “Stoic” ruins the powerhouse flow of the first three tracks of the album by being weakest and most annoying song on the disc. “Ritual Famine” is a totally underwhelming and bland metal tune that cannot follow in the footsteps of the previous song “Pivotal”. Besides these two weak tracks, “Beyond Hypothermia” contains a song that I both worship and loathe. It’s the 11-minute album closer “Crambone”. The first few minutes of “Crambone” are ridiculously irritating; the vocals sound as if the vocalist from Clutch was singing (not that that’s a bad thing by itself, but it doesn’t mix with the music at all and sounds totally incongruous when compared to everything else on the record). Following those few minutes of frustration, “Crambone” breaks into a noise section based around various combinations of intense amplifier reverb and human wails, and while definitely an interesting experiment on the whole, it simply runs for too long. Something else to note about “Crambone” is that after a few minutes of silence after the noise section, Cave In try a little Metallica medley, specifically of the songs “Fight Fire with Fire”, “Creeping Death” and “The Four Horsemen”. I was definitely satisfied by this as Metallica is my favorite band of all time, but even those who are not fans of Metallica may find it interesting.
With “Beyond Hypothermia”, Cave In solidified themselves as a key figure in the world of metalcore. While it lacks diversity and a cohesive flow, it’s full of metalcore classics that are on par with the work of any other celebrated metalcore bands such as Botch or Coalesce. “Beyond Hypothermia” is a must-have for any proper metalcore fan.