Review Summary: Let that spelunker preach
There’s not much better in life than an album from a band you’d never heard of before knocking your socks off, and that’s exactly what Cave Sermon’s Divine Laughter
has done for me.
This Aussie crew is one of those contemporary bands which are definitely “metal”, but hard to pin down beyond that vague umbrella descriptor. You might associate them with Downfall of Gaia’s blend of black metal and post-metal, but that doesn’t account for their Ulcerate-ian dissonant tendencies, nor their generous pinches of metalcore and sludge. And, crucially, Cave Sermon have managed to fuse these diverse influences together quite well.
The sprawling opener “Beyond Recognition” gives the listener a good idea what they’re in for - stretches of absolutely pummeling heaviness intermixed with well-integrated flashes of something else, like the spooky ambient break-in-the-action around the three minute mark and synthy concluding segment. Meanwhile, you might feel that you’ve got “Crystallised” pinned down as an angular, dissonant, beast of a track, before the band lets loose on a soaring guitar solo throughout its middle stretch. If Divine Laughter
were a monster, it’s the kind of shapeshifting horror which would inevitably catch and devour you (alive, of course), because it can capably morph from the lumbering to the agile at any time, whatever circumstances best dictate.
The album’s middle run sees Cave Sermon flexing their creative muscles even more. “Liquid Gold” sees the band lean on their slower, doomier, post-metal side, with the heavy guitar backed by eerie synthwork which periodically takes center stage before the tempo increases for a chaotic final stretch. “The Paint of an Invader” stands as an eleven-plus minute epic, featuring (among other things) some of the album’s most powerful guttural vocals, an absolutely beautiful folky mid-section, and some wonderful guitar work in the later stages.
Ultimately, my praise for Divine Laughter
would be even more effusive if I didn’t feel that the release loses some of its (considerable) momentum towards the end. The penultimate track “Birds and Machines in Brunswick” functions as an instrumental interlude, but runs to nearly five minutes and certainly doesn’t justify that length, while the closing title track is an absolute slapper (as they say in the world of music theory), but its last three minutes or so of blaring electronics feel like far from this record’s best closing argument. With those complaints noted, Divine Laughter
remains an absolutely impressive release, delivering assorted metal delights in an unpredictable but remarkably coherent format. Combining the balls-to-the-wall heaviness which we so crave with a lot of nuance and sonic diversity, it’s highly recommended.