If you are into easy listening, then Calgary’s CAVEAT definitely are NOT for you in any way. The Progsters, who had already won me over with their self-titled EP in 2005, now have a deal with Canadian label Cyclone Records and their brand new album “Red” in my player, trying to make my head spin without the rest of the body following. What has changed? Nothing actually, but now don’t make the mistake of assuming that “Red” is just a copy of the formula used two years before, because there is no formula, as CAVEAT have been, are and probably will be as unpredictable as they come.
The gentlemen Musgrave, Baldwin, Sikorski and Rogers lay a foundation made up by at times dizzyingly complex rhythms and breaks, held together by immensely catchy melodies, everything topped off by the very varied vocal approach, which brings us guttural Death growls as well as aggressive vocals and clear singing as well, sometimes layered together or going hand in hand as if it was the easiest thing in the world, while the music runs circles around you.
When I prepared myself for this review I pondered about which approach I should take, if I should emphasize single songs or describe everything as a whole and I feel that neither will be able to bring you the right idea into mind how CAVEAT really sound. Take “Red” and “Sin” as examples. Both technically follow down the same road, but as that road is more of a 8-lane freeway than a small country road, they sound completely different, yet still like the same band, mostly thanks to the pretty unique triple vocal attack, which leaves its mark on most of the quartet’s songs.
And despite playing ping-pong with your brain, a calm, very melodic passage suddenly loosens things up and puts you at ease with the demanding time shifts, while an intricate acoustic guitar and very melodic vocals take the tension out of heavy Progging, also giving way to basically any speed between lazy groove and aggressive tour de forces, ensuring that there is not one second of boredom or predictability to be found on “Red”.
For the average listener CAVEAT probably are too complex and varied, while they still manage to hold enough catchiness to not only appeal to neuro surgeons, rocket scientists and music students. I am neither of these three categories and even though it took me quite a while to get into the Canadians’ sound, it was a very rewarding experience in the end!
(Online September 4, 2007)