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Hivelords: Cavern Apothecary

Remember that part in the movie The Fellowship of the Ring when the elf-queen Galadriel turns ghostly and shimmery and speaks in a scary distorted voice? Lots of people I knew were scared by that part, not expecting a character as beautiful and kind as she to come so close to being awful and frightening. I realize that I'm talking about Lord of the Rings and not Cavern Apothecary, but there is a point on this album (in the track "The Growing Overwhelm") when a voice turns equally scary. I can't make much of the words that are being spoken—something about a think called "the shade" and manipulation and knowledge and other stuff. From the style of the speech, I think it's an imitation of a Christian preacher, only the message in this sermon is about the shade and not God. I don't know if this is taken from a movie or is original to this album, but it certainly makes for a striking introduction. The song is slightly less interesting than the introduction. It's also way too long.

The band describes their music as "blackened psychedelic sludge," a label I'm willing to accept. They also see themselves as addressing a deep uncertainty to human experience, an underlying existential vulnerability that deeply suspects there is nothing behind all the trappings of culture and life and belief. That's an interesting premise, one that could make for some really thought-provoking lyrics. Still, the music must do the convincing, the test ultimately being more about the way the songs sound rather than the nature of the band's lyrics, themes, or overall image.

This album certainly is interesting, but is also a little too much like the example of from The Fellowship of the Ring that I mentioned above. At times, listening to the music here is like having a nightmare experience with someone (or something) you initially thought was interesting, sympathetic, and kind only to watch her freak out before your very eyes, her face, voice, and features distorted, ugly, and crazy. I don't want to overdo the comparison here, but I found this album to be enjoyable only in parts; most of the time, sadly, it feels like an exercise in pushing me away from the music. I understand that the band is trying to challenge the possibilities of this style of metal, but it feels strained and sometimes moves too far from basic musical elements. The vocals are especially hard to listen to; at times, they waver far too much beyond the key of the song and stay outside of it just long enough to raise the hairs on the back of the neck. This is music of despair and of chaos, music that sees a lack of structure as a commentary on a state of mind. In some ways, I liked the way the music tapped into a state of emotional chaos and didn't just sing about it. Here's a band that really wants to create despairing music. On that level, they succeed very well. Unfortunately, it's more intellectually interesting than aurally interesting. My ears, in other words, weren't very impressed.

Track Listing:
1. Atavus Lich
2. Antennae Manifest
3. Cavern Apothecary
4. The Growing Overwhelm
5. The Auraglyph

Added: September 18th 2013
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1256
Language: english

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