Monday, 26 July 2021

CAVERN DEEP ~ CAVERN DEEP ..... review

Sweden's Cavern Deep, Max Malmer (bass, vocals); Dennis Sjödin (drums) and Kenny Oswald Dufvenberg (guitars, vocals), have a story to tell, an adventure story of sorts, an adventure, like many adventures, that is driven by obsession and greed, a story brought to you via the medium of music and most specifically doom, this is that story...... 

One archaeologist and 49 men stand at the gates of a previously unknown civilization, for a moment staring down into the bowels of the mountain before they begin their decent. The journey downwards turn out to be more dangerous than expected, they climb down through whirling stairs lit only by organic fluorescent lights..
Further down the path turns more and more crumbled, eventually they must use ropes to traverse the broken bridges and tunnels over the deep chasms below. Filled by the promise of treasure they continue downwards.
Many men go missing as they’re tasked to explore diverting tunnels, they never return and their screams are followed by silence. the only thing found is their safety ropes, driven by greed the archaeologist continues the expedition.

If this brief outline of the concept behind Cavern Deep's self-tiled opus "Cavern Deep" has captured your interest then please read on....


Unlike many "concept" albums, that tend to go off piste along the way, "Cavern Deep" sticks very much to its storyline, as the narrative of this tale begins with the expedition staring down into the bowels of a mountain then naturally it would make sense to begin with a song called "Staring Down". If ever a song captured the mix of excitement, awe and trepidation felt when undertaking a journey into the unknown then "Staring Down" is that song, its atmospheric backdrop of dark thrumming riffs and ringing arpeggios, driven by powerful percussion and low growling bass, sits dankly and darkly behind a vocal that is clean, powerful and cultured and captures perfectly, in its gravid tones, the mood of the stories adventurers as they struggle with the enormity of the choices they have made. "Abandoned Quarters" follows and chronicles our explorers reaching an abandoned settlement where something amiss has transpired, the songs lyrics telling us of "signs of struggle, empty husks, scattered bones, gates unhinged", these lines delivered in low almost weary vocal tones over a sedate and intense groove that crackles with tension and only really explodes into doomic heaviness when it approaches the chorus. "Ominous Garden" is up next and begins with shimmering percussion beneath a repetitive, almost see-sawing, guitar motif  interspersed with Floydian flavoured lead, the song gradually increasing in tempo and intensity, with the vocals following suite, as the stories brave travellers realise that this no ordinary garden . The sound of dripping water and deep low slung bass heralds in "Waterways" accompanied by an even lower pitched vocal, here we find our party struggling to come to terms with the deep chasms and broken walkways that bar their way once they have left the garden, the song sees bassist Malmer and guitarist Dufvenberg trading off and harmonising on the vocals over a doomic, almost gothic feeling groove beneath which Sjödin lays down a thunderous mixture of restrained and unrestrained percussion. Lyrically the song highlights the growing terror and mistrust that is starting to spread throughout the party fuelled by the realisation that the chances of surviving this expedition are growing thinner by the hour, "aspirations begin to fade" sing our narrators, adding sardonically "the weak shall sink into their graves". Up next is "Leap Of Faith" a short doomic tome, that could almost be classed as being "traditional" if it were not for its dissonant guitar textures, which is then followed by the equally doomic and equally as short "Deeper Ground" both songs chronicling the explorers descent into the deepest bowels of the earth and the cost of that descent in both their lives and their sanity. "Fungal Realm" moves the story away from being one of men struggling to overcome obstacles and becomes one of men facing unspeakable horror, a horror that comes in the shape of something that is neither plant, mammal, insect or bacteria yet possesses characteristics that can be found in all four. " look behind, the chosen few, growing mounds I think they knew, life of sons will become food of gods, stay as one" sings the narrator/vocalist in low wearied tones over a backdrop of dank doom, made even danker and doomier by its sedate tempos and liquid-like guitar effects. Finally we arrive at "The Dark Place" and with all his companions absorbed into one by their fungal hosts it is left to our intrepid archaeologist to finish what he has started and take that final step. Entering a darkened room the archaeologist comes face to face with a dark and ancient entity who has for eons patiently been waiting for this encounter in order to hand over the reins of his fungal kingdom and in turn gain his own freedom. This chain of events is played out against a soundtrack of low slow and atmospheric doom that both musically and lyrically captures the narrators feelings of fear, despair and finally resignation, the narrators last agonies captured perfectly in the songs last verse, "Like a child I try to scream from the top of my lungs, suffocating from within I give in to blissful sleep finally relieved, we are lost; Cavern Deep".


Many conceptual albums can get a little complex and convoluted, the bands involved using their concepts/themes as just a convenient platform from which they can then take off into the cosmos on extended instrumental jams that, to the casual listener, often seem to have little or nothing do with the albums original concept. There are very few concept albums that stick rigidly to an original idea and tell a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, " Cavern Deep" however is one of those rare albums where this does happen. Cavern Deep (the band) have perfectly synced their lyrical content with their musical content on "Cavern Deep" to tell a tale that incorporates all the elements that you would expect from such a story and they have done so without ever feeling the need to go off on unexpected and unrelated tangents that might have otherwise distracted attention away from what is an absorbing and spine-chilling tale of adventure, hardship and Lovecraftian horror.
Check it out ....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

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