'Antenna' Continues Cave In Evolution

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

Like so many bands that reach the pinnacle of popularity in the rock underground, when Boston-based prog-metal outfit Cave In signed with a major label recently, there was certainly a feeling that some fans might protest. And while that may concern and even irk some acts, any sort of fan dissatisfaction caused by the move from the indie Hydra Head to RCA -- for the release of its fourth full length, "Antenna," released on March 18 -- isn't going to bother Cave In. The band is used to it by now.

Three years ago, after releasing two albums, building a substantial fan base, and steadily improving as songwriters, the band shifted its lineup and sound with its third effort, "Jupiter." The album saw guitarist Steve Brodsky become the group's frontman and the band morph from its throat-shredding, hyper-speed thrash core sound into a soaring, heavily progressive-rock-influenced record.

The record polarized fans. For staunch enthusiasts longing for machine-gun precise metallic hardcore, Jupiter's atmospheric interpretation of Radiohead, Sunny Day Real Estate, Rush, and Pink Floyd proved too atypical and foreign; yet the band started noticing scores of new faces at its shows. The album was a pivotal achievement for Cave In, and it would act as the anchor for the group's continually evolving new sound.

With the release of "Antenna," Cave In -- which also includes guitarist Adam McGrath, drummer John-Robert Connors, and bassist Caleb Scofield -- has again distilled its sound into something bright while still working from a brooding post-hardcore template. The band has stepped up with more of a focus on large and driving riffs and a prominent verse-and-chorus song progression.

"In terms of rhythm, overall groove, and vibe, [the songs] are meant to be a bit more direct," Brodsky says. "They're not as moody or schizo either. We more or less set out to make a rock record without really diluting our sound to the point of just being a complete watered-down, boring mess of nothing."

Is the crisply recorded "Antenna" likely to alienate the fans that latched onto the complex yet catchy elements of "Jupiter"? Cave In's trademark moody and cerebral qualities are still there, so the answer is most likely no. The time the band spent cloistered in Los Angeles' Cello Studios with producer Rich Costey helped Cave In trim the length of its songs (with the exception of the nine-minute "Seafrost") and tease out its melodic abilities into a concise batch of blistering rock songs and idyllic acoustic cuts.

Despite its pact with RCA, Cave In -- which formed in the Boston area in 1995 as a fiercely underground technical hardcore band with humble beginnings of playing shows in cramped basements and VFW halls -- is still largely involved in the independent music community. Brodsky notes that Cave In is proud of its hard-touring, indie-rock past. "It has shaped who we are today, just being a band that's deeply rooted in underground culture and politics. It shapes who we are as people and how we like to conduct our band and how we treat people around us that either work for us or are in other bands."

Excerpted from the April 5, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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