Review Summary: City of Caterpillar is perhaps one of the most viscerally satisfying and emotionally resonant albums ever written.
City of Caterpillar is interesting in that they’re both highly influential, as well as extremely obscure. Sure, the emo community is very familiar with their work, but the average music listener would have no clue what the hell the “City of Caterpillar” is supposed to be if you brought then up in casual conversation. This could probably be attributed mainly to the fact that the band was incredibly short lived and didn't really put out that much material before disbanding. Their self-titled full length, which also happens to be their only full length, is a perfect reminder of what a shame that is.
Although far from the most important aspect of the music, the vocals are likely what will make or break this album for many listeners. They’re shrill, ugly, and hard to make out. But they also happen to be perfect for conveying the album’s powerful emotions. Could A Heart Filled Reaction to Dissatisfaction
’s closing refrain of “Now I’m too scared to touch a friend like you” have the same emotional effect if it were merely sung? Probably not. The anger and pain that the vocals manage to convey goes a long way towards making the album’s lyrics so powerful.
The real star of the show, of course, is the band’s combination of post-rock and hardcore. Long, dramatic build-ups give way to sudden fits of rage as the instruments swell into aggressive noise and the screamed vocals shout out relatable frustrations. The instruments convey a strange feeling of loneliness and isolation, while the vocals and lyrics almost border on schizophrenic at times, such as on closer Maybe They’ll Gnaw Right Through
City of Caterpillar is arguably one of the finest emo bands of all time. Despite the fact that they’ve been gone for a good ten years now, their music still remains influential and - above all - enjoyable.