Review Summary: Progressive/math rock with a pretty unique surprise.
Caverns is a band that just can't decide what they want to be. At times, they put together complex, tightly knit phrases of oddly timed, oddly voiced chords, in true math rock fashion. At others, they just spew out a slew of tasty riffs in a swirling torrent of heavy progressive rock. Occasionally, they create some instantly memorable and catchy melodies, and every now and again, they lay down some pretty thick grooves. Still, there are plenty of other bands out there with the same penchant for unpredictability, some of which are arguably better bands than Caverns (which is a bit unfair to say since this is
only the band's first release). So, what did Caverns do to set themselves apart from the Tera Meloses and the Dillinger Escape Plans of the world you ask" Simple. They did away with the idea of a bass player and added a pianist instead.
Sure the guitarist knows his way around the fretboard, and sure the drummer is more than competent behind the kit, but the addition of the pianist is really what gives Caverns their unique character, and it's made abundantly clear throughout the album that the pianist wasn't just a last minute addition because the band needed a gimmick, as none of the songs here would work without him. The blaring ferocity of album opener Spreading Like A Virus (Monday is just an entire minute of feedback), would feel so empty without the crashing piano underneath the torrent of guitar riffs, and the epic closing of Remasculator gets quite a bit of it's heaviness from low end provided by the piano. However, the piano isn't just limited to playing second banana to the top notch guitar work. The entire first half of Brodown: High Noon is driven almost completely by a plethora of hypnotic piano melodies before the song blasts into a series of heavy groove oriented, piano backed guitar riffs, and album closer Pillow Talk, which is actually a rather soothing moment within the album, is almost exclusively piano oriented. With all of the piano/guitar interplay going on, it's easy to forget about drumming, which is just as spectacular as the other instruments. To be perfectly honest, what's presented here isn't exactly the most exceptionally technical drumming under the sun, but what is lacked in terms of technical prowess, is more than made up for with creativity. Where most drummers choose to shine during the obvious fast paced sections, Cavern's drummer opts to put his best ides behind the slowest pieces of the album, letting the piano and guitar drive the faster sections. The interesting choice of a china cymbal during the outro of Browdown, and the rolling backbeat throughout most of Stop Being paranoid are prime examples of this.
I'm sure many of you are wondering when the vocals are going to get their mention, but they won't, and for good reason. There aren't any. Caverns is a strictly instrumental band, and they wouldn't have it any other way. To be perfectly honest, vocals would really end up getting in the way of most of what the band is trying to accomplish with Kittens!. Even if you've never been much of a fan of heavier instrumental music, Caverns' refreshing mashup of progressive rock/metal and math-rock might just be the type of thing to get you interested in the genre, and if you quite enjoy heavier instrumental music, no matter what kind, I would strongly suggest you get your hands on this EP. With the band's first release being this strong, it will be interesting to see what they do with all of their talent and potential in the future.