Cave of Swimmers – Cave of Swimmers (The Path Less Traveled Records, 15 April 2014)
Cave of Swimmers – Reflection (self-released, 4 May 2015)
Dear Friends, I am thoroughly confused about something. It’s been about two months since Cave of Swimmers, the Venezuelan-American guitar/moog/vocals/drums duo who live in Miami, released their second album Reflection. This is a collection of four songs that are sheer excellence — every bit as fantastic as the four songs on their self-titled debut which had been released about a year prior — unquestionably one of the most incredible things I heard in 2014, and quite a pleasant out-of-nowhere surprise. So what I can’t understand is, at this point, why is this band not just exploding, and being lauded with overwhelming international renown??
To a small extent, I accept and acknowledge my share of the blame: on both occasions I’ve let trivial things like “being too busy at work to get much writing done” keep me from publicly sharing my thoughts on the release of these two brilliant albums (with one minor exception). Well that all ends today. Get ready to fill your ears with this…
Picture this, if you can: instead of Filter‘s Richard Patrick, members of Stone Temple Pilots had instead formed the band Army of Anyone with The Offspring‘s Dexter Holland. And they decided to record their own reimagination of R.E.M.‘s “Circus Envy” from the Monster album. And this new version switches gears a few times — to go in more exploratory psychedelic/blues directions, much like the medley at the end of Black Sabbath‘s self-titled album, or at times incorporating a somewhat funkier Latin-infused bassline paired with an agogô bell like a Santana jam session.
Okay, now STOP picturing that, and get that terrible grimace off your face. I’m sure that you won’t take my word for it that this could possibly result in anything good, so I’ll just let you experience it for yourself in “Hangman” — the lead-off track from Cave of Swimmers. Combining a fair amount of 90s hard rock influence (which makes sense when you realize that the two bandmates had previously worked together in several other projects including a Rage Against the Machine cover band) with faithful appropriations from 70s heavy metal and 80s doom seems to be the calling card of Cave of Swimmers, although put together in unexpected and unique ways, and with enough variation to where each song might be classified in rather different subgenres.
“Materia” from the self-titled album and “The Skull” from its successor, for example, both make use of heavy-as-hell sludge/doom riffs as a backdrop for perfectly-executed Dantesco-style operatic singing. Those same strong vocal skills are also displayed in the title track “Cave of Swimmers” which resembles an inverted variation on “Sunshine of Your Love” with Ian Gillan belting out the lyrics, or the first song on Reflection “The Prince of the Power of the Air” which emulates Dio‘s crooning style exactly as well as its title encapsulates the over-the-top ridiculousness of most of Ronnie James‘ material throughout his career. (And the chorus melody of “The Prince” will drill its way into your skull and stay there every bit as much as the one in “Rainbow in the Dark” will.)
Overall, these two albums present eight songs that are each amazing in their own individual way, but combined they show an impressive level of progressiveness and vast range of influences (I’ve only just scratched the surface here; listen closely and you’re likely to hear nods to Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd, Yes, Heart, and the list goes on and on, not to mention the frequent dalliances with Latin/calypso-flavored breaks).
As I stated in my opening remarks, both albums are fairly equal in terms of their level of quality, so I’ll include embeds of both albums below so you can try to pick a favorite. Personally, I’d recommend grabbing a copy of both. (You can find them on CD, along with some t-shirts and other stuff here.)
As a bonus, the band has put up an edited version of “The Prince of the Power of the Air” (pared down to under seven minutes from the original ten), which is available to download for FREE right here.
And here’s an extra special treat for those of you lucky enough to live in a handful of east-coast cities — in a few weeks Cave of Swimmers will be hitting the road on their Reflection Tour:
Check out the full details here.
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