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Cave In

Jupiter (Hydra Head Records)

A list of the individual injustices perpetuated against heavy metal could stretch longer than the blond hair on Vince Neil's head. Amid the distraction of spandex pants, groupie Olympics and songs about nookie, hard rock's really had a tough time over the past fifteen years or so. Though there's no hope that Cave In's Jupiter can erase almost a generation's worth of such crimes, it takes the first steps toward salving some of the most bitter wounds on the genre's body.

There's nothing but raw rock under Cave In's hood. Though the band honed its chops playing balls-out metal, this time out the fare switches to slower, weightier material. Cave In alludes to the style informed by Black Sabbath and other acts that put their stock in concrete rhythms rather than breakneck speed and overamplified guitars. Sweeping open spaces soar above this record's grimy corners, while full-bodied guitars attempt the heft of acts such as Zeppelin or post-haircut Metallica. The band's respect for momentous power still smashes with the impact of a gunnysack full of bricks.

Whether it showcases restrained power with the soft-spoken girth of acoustic guitars ("Requiem") or washes itself in deliberate beats descended directly from the sticks of John Bonham ("Jupiter"), Cave In lumbers with the power of a hill giant. It takes more than picking speed and guitar volume to kick out the leaden jams, and this band knows all of the less obvious tricks.

A mix of experimentation with grounded songwriting moves Jupiter away from blueprint rock and roll and into the arty aesthetic usually confined to emo circles. "Brain Candle" champions dissonant guitar work, while "In the Stream of Commerce" wanders through a wilderness of eerie pick slides and effects. Cave In clearly isn't content to relax in the shadows cast by its predecessors.

Such a sense of adventure makes Jupiter a thrilling listen. Though the band calls down the thunder with the flair of classic acts, there's nothing stale about its approach to hard rock. Dark and heavy, Cave In shows that despite its embarrassing moments, metal still has a lot of spunk left.

 
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