Thursday, 16 April 2015

Cave of Swimmers - Reflection (2015) / 98%

Superb artwork, quite evocative

The water is great, the doom is greater

Cave of Swimmers were on my check out list for a while when I received the promo for Reflection, what a better way to discover a band than with their newest album? I was more than surprised with the quality of this band, they're perhaps my discovery of the year (or maybe the decade???) so far, it's so good, it's almost hard to comprehend.

The band is actually a duo composed of Venezuelan childhood friends who both moved to Miami, Florida in the mid 2000s and oh boy, they're so talented that I became emotionally unstable when I first heard the album. I only get these sort of reactions once or twice a year nowadays. It's hard to discover something that will trouble your tripes that much when you're deeply involved in metal, especially doom, a genre I've been exploring thoroughly for a while now. These guys touched me with their music like Opeth did when I was a mere teenager who was still buying the latest System of a Down albums.

What are they playing though? That's why I'm here, right? Well, it's hard to explain but I'll try... At their core, they're a very epic doom band with soaring clean vocals and it's not everyday you hear a better singer than Messiah Marcolin but Guillermo Perez is unbelievable and chilling. His deep, rich vocals are so powerful than they probably woke up Hugo Chavez from the dead. He's operatic as hell, he's very lyrical and delivers the lyrics in a hypnotic way. Musically though, they're nowhere near what most epic doom metal bands are doing these days (see generic bands like Below or even the latest Sorcerer who are on aping at the altar of their Swedish masters). These guys are truly doing something else here, they include a fair load of progressive metal/rock, especially in the glorious, melodic and intricate guitar solos but also with the river-like song structures. It's hard to describe their progressive side, it has the classiness of Queen's heaviest material and the epic might of Rainbow's Rising and even some Rush (the first song starts with some keyboards similar to Rush's 2112) To emulate these bands and to honor their heritage, you need quite the singer and Cave of Swimmers is lucky to have such a talent.

They don't stop there though, they'd be mad not to continue their superb blend of styles! The duo also includes some Latin influences, like the percussion break in the first song “The Prince of the Power of the Air” that made me change my pants when I first heard it. It made me think of the experimental Latino side of The Mars Volta mixed with the operatic power of Dantesco's Puerto Rican epic doom. This link to their homeland doesn't feel forced or gimmicky, it's an integral part of their sound and it's influencing the other sides of their identity. There's also some stoner rock/metal and some alternative rock bits (more prevalent in their self titled debut album though). A stew of all good things can only be great if the sauce is thick and able to form a connected whole, they manage to be cohesive throughout the four songs.

The album is sort of composed of two sides. The first one includes two long numbers (both around ten minutes) and the second has two shorter compositions containing the self titled instrumental track that's ending “Reflection”. The release also includes a shorter edit of the first track, it's the featured song on their Bandcamp page. The album, excluding that edited song, is less than thirty five minutes and you've left wanting more since it's so damn great. I think the band has the potential to become even more epic and grandiose and that's only a tease (but a magnificent one) of things to come. At least they're not offering a bloated eighty minutes album like some bands are doing.

Lyrically, the band is very focused and doesn't use a lot of words, they prefer to repeat the tremendous lines and create a mesmerizing feel and it's so freaking catchy. Sometimes less is more but that's only the case for their lyrics since they go all in everywhere else.

Proving they're not scared of experimenting with anything, Cave of Swimmers managed to craft a compelling and very smart diverse album with a bombastic atmosphere and some of the best and most interesting musicianship the metal world has to offer.

There's almost nothing here I don't like but the short length has left me hungry for more just like you want to eat a BLT and there's no more bacon in the house, it's that tragic. But sometimes, a tease can be better and more rewarding that the actual act. Cave of Swimmers made me want to jump into their clear and interior pond, that's for sure. So remove your coats, put a smile on your face, a swimsuit on your body and dive into their excellent music.

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