Review: Cave In – White Silence

The band's first full-length in six years defies any traditional classification - and that's a good thing.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson


Cave In

White Silence

Hydra Head Records


Cave In has had the kind of ride that most bands accumulate over forty or more years. Starting as a heavier and more experimental band. Cave In generated a heavy following before switching styles and creating more of pissed off Radiohead vibe. The sound made Cave In a critic’s darling and landed the band a contract with RCA Records. Jump ahead to the early two thousands when Cave In, always trying to stay one step ahead of the curve, decided to go back to their roots. 


The demos they turned in to RCA were rejected and the band was dropped. Those demos became the album Perfect Pitch Black, a record of such pure aggression that it was undeniable. Then, silence. For four years Cave In stayed quiet until releasing the 2009 EP Planets Of Old, another sonic triumph. Now, in 2011, the band has unleashed White Silence, their first full length in six years. 


The first thing you have to understand about White Silence is that it defies any kind of classification. It’s part metal, part prog-rock, a touch of thick sludge metal and a bit of grindcore. No one song sounds like the other but the album is a complete and cohesive artistic statement. It’s always refreshing when a band reaches this level in their career. Cave In isn’t interested in anything at this point besides doing whatever the hell they want to. White Silence is an experimental record for sure, sounding like the next logical step from Planets Of Old but with just a dash of their more space rock sound. 


Cave In waste no time here, opening with a primal scream over a staccato groove that more unleashes the album then begins it. The music crawls through a minefield of over biased guitar crashes and plodding rhythms, while the vocals drag across like nails across a chalkboard. “Serpents” explodes next, blending a raw and almost black metal sound with early eighties hardcore. It’s a full minute of pounding drums and harsh guitars before the vocals even enter the picture. 


“Sing My Love” has an early thrash metal feel, while “Vicious Circles” takes post-hardcore in a direction that shows even the best of that genre the door. This is chaos, but a controlled one. Nothing on White Silence feels forced or out of place, Cave In remain totally in control and that’s the key. Rage and anger are powerful emotions that can quickly turn silly. So many bands can’t couple it with humanity, they become so obsessed with being angry or sharing their rage they push aside their craft. Cave In writes songs. Theirs is a complete and emotional music that tethers itself to the dark poisons we all experience. When the instruments and vocals scream it’s a catharsis we can all share, even if we apply it to our personal demons. White Silence is a personal record that manages to be non-specific and that’s what great art is supposed to be about.


One of my favorites on the album is “Heartbreaks, Earthquakes” because it sums up the album so well. In the midst of all this harsh chaos comes a tune that draws on both the Beatles and the Jesus And Mary Chain. It’s a feedback-oriented song with lush harmonies and yet it never feels alien, it never seems to not belong on White Silence. When a band can do that, they’ve achieved what so many fail to do. Cave In is a band whose power comes from how much they care and much they don’t care at all.