Cave In - Until Your Heart Stops
Hydra Head
Technical Metalcore
10 songs (54:00)
Release year: 1998
Hydra Head
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

The debut studio album from Massachusetts–based boundary-pushers Cave In is typical of the band in that it’s a difficult album to sum up, however many listens you give it. Whatever you do, don’t take that title as proof of some Killswitch Engage-esque lame-core, for Until Your Heart Stops is closer to Coalesce and Converge in juddering rhythms and violent time changes – Kurt Ballou and Jacob Bannon even make guest appearances. It’s ahead of its time, being released prior to The Dillinger Escape Plan’s game-changing Calculating Infinity, and introduces elements of other genres that would go on to define Cave In’s unique sound – each of their albums represents not just a different genre, but a whole new attitude to underground music, and each has its devotees and detractors.

Yet few criticise this album, as it is a genuinely good proof of what Metalcore can achieve when done right. Any melodies are twisted to the point of derangement, some moments of (relatively) clean singing lost in the surrounding chaos, and the song structures are progressive above all. Juggernaut is a textbook example, militaristic storms of riffage collapsing in the face of onslaughts of Hardcore energy, strange glacial melodies dripping through for moments before the song twists back on itself, oddly Jazzy yet never afraid to let you headbang. Fear not, there’s plenty of that – two minute opener Moral Eclipse is a energetic yet off-kilter pounder fresh from the funny farm, distorted guitars galloping on by with breakdowns and percussion-driven forays into multi-vocal screaming sessions worked in seamlessly. Terminal Deity follows, stop-start riffing repeatedly devolving into a special kind of madness which makes more sense the more you hear it, yet it’s the longer songs which really define this album, especially the eight-minute The End Of Our Rope Is A Noose. Starting in an ambient soundscape, it moves to Isis territory before moving into a mid-paced prog-core, ricocheting along like a slow-moving bullet, almost Stoner in its juddering melodies, with a superb break for psychedelic territory partway through that turns nasty very quickly.

The album as a whole is an intriguing listen, not least because it rarely does what you expect of it. The title track jumps along, twisted Slayer riffs fighting each other before it all turns twistedly melodic, slowly devolving into near-noise, only to be followed by Halo Of Flies, stomp-along wall of guitar noise with strange effects on the percussion, harsh vocals switching to almost crooning and back in the blink of an eye. Ebola starts as frantic and hysterical as you’d expect before moving away to become the most melodic track on the album, and the thirteen-minute finale Controlled Mayhem Then Erupts sails away on a sea of ambience. As I said at the beginning of this review, Until Your Heart Stops is hard to sum up, but it’s an interesting, diverse and near revolutionary listen if you’re used to Metalcore of a more turgid kind. It was certainly the start of a very interesting career for Cave In...

Killing Songs :
Moral Eclipse, Terminal Deity, Juggernaut, The End Of Our Rope Is A Noose, Halo Of Flies, Ebola
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Cave In that we have reviewed:
Cave In - Final Transmission reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Cave In - Perfect Pitch Black reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Cave In - Antenna reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Cave In - Jupiter reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
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