Powdered by CavernRelease date: August 28, 2020
It must be the year of Hum, the space rock masters released a new album out of the blue and the press release which accompanied this release was the second in quick succession which mentions them. If Cavern is influenced by Hum they certainly don’t ladle too much of that into new release Powdered. Cavern sails over numerous genre lines ranging from hard rock to post-rock. Reappearing as a three piece after a period as a duo, and including vocals for the first time shows the band is not afraid to evolve and adapt. Powdered is a fantastic release which seems as if it is over too quickly and it certainly leaves a mark on the memory.
I keep getting drawn to a comparison between Powdered and Nest by Brutus and it’s probably down to some similarities I find in high points from both albums. For me ‘War’ was the standout track on the last Brutus album and Cavern hit a peak with the tremendous ‘Grey’. The main difference between the bands is that Cavern enter from a hard/classic rock blues feel whereas Brutus has a post-hardcore edge. However, the blasting chorus of ‘Grey’ features an absolutely belting vocal hook and thunderous blast beats, which doesn’t leave it a million miles away from the Brutus offering.
That sense of blues does flow through this album and is really projected in the vocals of bassist Rose Heater. Even when the guitar and drummer run into groves of a Russian Circles feeling in the title track the vocals carry a deep earthly tone and the bass work in the breakdown of the song hook it away from entering too far into a post-rock territory. The experience of playing as a drum and guitar duo is evident throughout the release as every instrument plays its role in filling the sounds.
The interplay between the spectacular drumming of Stephen Schrock and guitar and synth of Zach Harkins creates such a full sound that the addition of Heater is the icing on the cake. A track like ‘Fade Before the Flood’ would be interesting instrumentally as the guitars and drums build their own crescendos and rhythms, but the vocals in the slower areas crate a far more tender feeling track. The same can be said of opener ‘River’, which has peaks both vocally and instrumentally.
Even though it transitions through different styles Powdered never falls out of sync. Even with ‘Grey’ where you move from classic rock, to blast beats, to finger tapping post-rock and back again it is so beautifully coordinated and everything gets a chance to breath organically in each genre. The six tracks only span 24 minutes and I found myself letting the album loop and loop enjoying it more with each listening and uncovering something new. This is a great step in a new direction for the band which has taken bold steps musically and by self-releasing the album. I shall be keeping an ear out for what they get up to next as well as delving into the back catalogue.