ight-trousered big-haired stadium rockers Def Leppard once pondered what happens ‘When Love And Hate Collide’. Well, with their major label debut, Boston’s Cave In have engineered an even more potentially gruesome collision between punk and prog, and as befits an aural car-crash of this scale, you simply can’t tear yourself away from it.
It sounds as if a bunch of no-bullshit straight-edgers have been cooped up in an underground drug den for a week with only Pink Floyd records for company, and then released blinking into the daylight and shuttled immediately into the recording studio. On the one hand, Antenna has the thrilling and muscular intensity of hardcore. On the other, there are the ambient effects, heavily treated vocals and frontman Stephen Brodsky singing lyrics like “Breast-fed by the moon, I’ve grown up too soon” (‘Youth Overrided’) and “She curves just like the wick of a burning candle’s dancing flame” (‘Woodwork’) without even a hint of shame. This is a band, remember, whose last full-length album featured a track titled ‘Innuendo And Out The Other’. Evidently ridicule is nothing to be afraid of, and it’s a mark of their audacious brilliance that they can, for the most part, get away with it.
At times it’s not hard to see what Dave Grohl hand-picked them as a support act for Foo Fighters: ‘Penny Racer’ and ‘Anchor’ barrel along with all the melody, brawn and gusto of prime Foos. But the real hints of what makes Cave In such a fascinating band are perhaps to be found elsewhere: on ‘Breath Of Water’, for instance – an epic take on Papa Roach’s ‘Last Resort’; on ‘Inspire’ or re-recorded single ‘Lost In The Air’, both packed with choruses that rocket off into the stratosphere; or on the fabulous final track ‘Woodwork’, their answer to Sparta’s potent blend of weighty tuneage and blistering post-hardcore fury. Most remarkable of all, though, is the album’s monumental centrepiece, ‘Seafrost’, which sets sail with a lurching bassline and drums reminiscent of Tool before veering wildly off the expected course and into the avant-garde mist.
Antenna sees Cave In walking a precarious artistic tightrope - teetering and stumbling on occasion, but thankfully never quite falling off. For the listener, it’s a spectacular balancing act to witness.
Reviewed by: Ben Woolhead
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01