|Artwork by Tim Buckley|
Any review that starts from a position of bias but does not acknowledge said bias is misleading, so it needs to be stated that I am a Hivelords fanboy. I produced their Grand Cromlech 7" and was asked to do the same for Cavern Apothecary but my schedule made it impossible. In a way, I am glad; contributing to the recording process makes the final master feel much less magical, makes the sum parts stick out more, makes it feel more personal (which is nice) but removes some of the distance required to be truly awed by a work. This is the case with Cavern Apothecary. I wish I could have worked on it, I am glad I did not; I am in awe.
|Photo by Jordan Fogal.|
"Awe" is a powerful word. Dictionary.com says, "an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like." It suggests the union of the emotional and the intellectual; with it comes an implication of mystery, of distance, of otherness. These are things I get from this band and this record. There are many words that get used to describe metal bands, especially of the black or blackened variety: evil, demonic, twisted; but Hivelords manage to pull off something I find more rare: deep, ominous, creeping, oozing, existentially threatening. Their sound suggests a maturity far beyond their years. Most musicians toil for years before they find such a perfect union, but Cavern Apothecary manages it all: vocals that at times direct traffic and otherwise take the traditional extreme metal "sound coloration" position to make room for haunting riffs; solid, perfectly placed in-the-pocket drumming; and the most clever, mature use of bass I have heard on a metal record in years. Look no further than second track "Antenna Manifest" for this to come into plain view. From its huge, ominous opening to the chilling warble of Kevin North's delay-heavy vocals, to the shifting of the melody from guitar to vocals to bass back to vocals, as the song climbs and pounds and pushes forward until all pieces are full of unnatural energy.
|Photo by Jordan Fogal.|
Hivelords squeeze everything they possibly can out of their material. Their understanding of their craft is a treat, one of the underground's best-kept secrets. They are more HP Lovecraft than Clive Barker and possess a "less-is-more" ethos that most bands never quite understand.
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