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Inter Arma: The Cavern

When this EP came out several weeks ago, it was met with quite a bit of positive attention. It was included on several people's end-of-year best-of lists and seems to have established itself as a modern classic of long-form songwriting. I think it deserves all this attention and even more than that. Yeah, it takes time to listen to the whole thing, but those who listen for the nuances of music and mood will enjoy what they hear. As for me, I've taken my time with it, mostly so I could soak in its different musical qualities, its various movements and moods, at different times and in different ways. I certainly see it as one of the best releases of the year. You'll never hear it on the radio and may never even experience it live, but if you like sludge-soaked post-rock, this is well worth the time and effort it takes to listen to it.

For those who don't know, The Cavern gives listeners one song. That's it. It was originally written back in 2009 but was never recorded. It was performed a few times but was one of those rare pieces, the kind of thing people talk about and hope to experience. With this release, a calculated risk by the folks at Relapse Records, this song can now be enjoyed by everyone. Part of the fun of listening to "The Cavern" is trying to figure out how the whole thing fits together. Technically, a metal song of this length shouldn't work. Who's got the energy to write the whole thing? Who's got the energy to listen to the whole thing? But, like a movie you can't take your eyes off of, this song unfolds in such a way that the time passes smoothly.

One of the cool things about "The Cavern" is its array of guest musicians, including vocals by Dorthia Cottrell (Windhand) and Meg Mulhearn (violins). The other musicians—Mikey Allred, John Liedtke, and Shibby Poole—all add various layers to the overall sound. What will this song be like in a live setting? Will the band ever perform it with all the violins, synthesizers, and bowed basses? I hope so; it would be fun to watch "The Cavern," as much fun as it is to listen to it.

For all my positive remarks, the music here is ultimately a bit hard to describe. The band plays mostly within a Southern / stoner / sludge/ post-rock sound. Those descriptors are helpful, but they risk breaking the music up into certain parts, as though the whole thing can be explained by its sonic influences. It's better, I think, to say that this is something unique and something fascinating.

Track Listing:
1. The Cavern

Added: December 31st 2014
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1646
Language: english

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