Tides of Tomorrow comes into a weird place within the career of Massachusetts group Cave In. The Radiohead of Metal forsook the technical metalcore of Beyond Hypothermia and Until Your Heart Stops for spacey alternative metal on Jupiter, and then left that for KROQ alternative with some indie influences on Antenna. It was a genre-leap unheard of with an extreme metal group outside of thrash – especially considering the underground status of metalcore at the time. Cave In seemed poised for success on the general airwaves,1 and Tides of Tomorrow serves as a teaser for and link between the psychedelic soundscape of Jupiter and the straight rock of Antenna.
This is the most radio-friendly record ever released by Hydra Head – a label inhabited by Xasthur, Coalesce, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, and Merzbow. Stephen Brodsky croons on the title track, with layers of guitar arpeggios and “ah”s washing over the listener. “Come into Your Own” is an excellent rocking starter track – quite in vein of “Jupiter” off of the eponymous album. “The Calypso” is subtly entrancing with a waltz time signature and heavily affected guitars leading into a powerful chorus, along with the most uplifting guitar solo the band had (and still has) ever written. It’s quite obvious that Cave In were selling themselves here – but not selling out; the group’s multi-faceted influences are obvious all over their earlier discography, with the especially eclectic Creative Eclipses extended-play being more than demonstrative of that fact.
Yet Tides of Tomorrow feels sterile – an impression that followed into Antenna and somewhat into comeback metalcore album Perfect Pitch Black2. The production is immaculate, the musicianship is perfectly on target, and Stephen Brodsky’s vocals have just the right amount of affect; but it’s without the power and heart of Jupiter. It’s the je ne sais quoi of something appearing too perfect. This is somewhat obviated by Brodsky’s lyrics, which are lifeless and passive; there’s just no way to deliver a pun such as “the reality check is in the mail,” especially when the singer is trying to ape a tenor nasal-tone. The album has a passive vibe that is belied by its impressive coherency in sound. Perhaps length is another issue: the average track runs for five minutes, and that’s typically pretty long for alternative rock singles – even ones with the progressive stylings with which Cave In lace their songs. The three aforementioned tracks are worth a listen for the curious; the rest may be safely skipped except by those for whom Antenna is an alt-rock monolith.
1. Come into Your Own – (4:52) – ★★★★★
2. Dark Driving – (5:27) – ★★☆☆☆
3. The Calypso – (4:02) – ★★★★☆
4. Tides of Tomorrow – (6:24) – ★★★☆☆
5. The Callus [Giant’s Chair cover] – (3:31) – ★★☆☆☆
6. The Everest – (5:24) – ★★★☆☆
1… which, sadly, did not come to fruition. Antenna‘s propensity for successful crossover is one of the biggest “what if”s in the last two decades of heavy metal history.
2Originally wrote this as Pitch Perfect Black. Fucking A, man.