Before I begin this review, I want to say up front that metal music is not particularly high up on my musical food chain. Metal has never really been something that has grabbed me in the way that genres like psychedelic, alternative and ambient have. That's not to say that this record, Cavalcade's "Into Bolivian", is not a good record. It is strange, disconcerting and downright bizarre, all in its own unique way. It is thematically based around the minds of serial killers and scizophrenics...and Mike Tyson, who helped the band name the album thanks to a quote by the once great boxing king.
Conceptually, tying the thoughts and actions of serial killers to a musical landspace characterized by the doom of Sunn O))), the low fi aura punk of Sonic Youth and the Stooges as well as the metal riffage of Black Sabbath, should be a match made in heaven (or in this case hell). And although I feel that the two work ideas are thoroughly executed to the fullest, this marriage is also what pulls me away from the record.
Another aspect of the album I found fascinating was the artwork. With a color palette consisting of blood red and lemon yellow on top of grizzly looking two-faced monsters on the album's cover, this helps set the mood for what the listener is diving into. Craig Horkey, the band's bassist, is also the band's artist. He does a great job of getting the listener visually ready the their unique musical experience.
The sonic fury of the album, with its constant dissonance, black metal shreiks and even saxaphone wailings make this album a treacherous journey to get through. The journey is sometimes calmer, such as the intro and bridge sections on Riding Elephants Through Cartilage, where a funky guitar line struts along. But then the verses hit you like a freight train, with vocals from the depths of hell and dissonant sax and guitar plague your ears. The end of the song is filled with extreme amounts of dissonance and feedback. It seems the calm is always shorter than the storm in this case.
My previous statement sums up my thoughts on this record. Even during the less tense moments on the record, there is still an overwhelming sense of fear and corrosiveness. The vocals, provided by Zak Warren, consist only of black metal rasps and shrieks. This adds to the record's conceptual execution, as this vocal style is perfect for the mindset conveyed. But at the same time, when the record is nothing but in the black metal style, it tends to ware on the ears and become a chore toward the end of the record.
This record is incredibly unique but at the same time, I feel it is this uniqueness that harms the record. Too many styles are conveyed at once for the listener to find something that they can latch onto and find a reason to put the record on repeat. I give the band points for experimenting but feel that concept won over execution. Taking black metal, punk, and a saxaphone and putting them together is no easy task and I commend the band for throwing caution to the wind, musically and visually. The record, however, is a once-a-year listen for me.
- Visit myspace.com/cavalfuck for more information about the band as well as tour dates and new album information
- You can purchase "Into Bolivian" from the Bermuda Mohawk Store for $10