Ever been blindsided by an album? Maybe you throw a disc in, let it play in the background for a while, and then you realize a couple of songs in that what you're hearing is nothing like you expected. If you haven't had that experience, pick up the latest from Boston hardcore band Cave In, Perfect Pitch Black.
From the opening salvo--static that segues into a soaring ballad, "The World Is In Your Way"--the expectations of regular hardcore are set. Lead singer Stephen Brodsky hits his notes with passion, occasionally lapsing into the falsely deep vocals we've come to expect from the genre but, surprisingly, to good effect. The guitars are strong, the percussion thundering but not overbearing; no surprise. Things start to shift a little about the middle of the fourth track, "Trepanning"; the song takes a dynamic shift into blues rock for a few measures before heading back into guitar overdrive.
And then, Oasis starts singing. At least, that's what I thought at the beginning of "Paranormal": Brodsky does such an uncanny imitation of Liam Gallagher from Oasis I had to check the playlist. Over the course of 7 minutes (the longest song on the disc), the song moves from mosh-pit cruncher to pop-rock balladry to ethereal guitar interludes and back, an astonishing range for an album, much less one song. Nor are the surprises over; on "Down The Drain," Brodsky and company channel the Dandy Warhols so closely that I'm still not sure the band didn't hire Courtney Taylor to do the vocals.
To be sure, this may not be what the average hardcore fan is looking for. While nearly all the songs on the disc retain an aggro edge, most aren't clearly in the hardcore mold. You say you want a moody instrumental that varies tempo and mood? Cue up "Ataraxia." Want something a little mopier and completely free of that throat-clenching growl, like something Neil Finn might record if he had more of a taste for bass? "Tension In The Ranks" is the one for you. They even close out the album with a fast little number called "Screaming In Your Sleep" that combines the hardcore sound with a slightly jazzy tempo. If variety is the spice of life, Perfect Pitch Black is just the album to heat things up.