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Cave In, ‘Perfect Pitch Black’ (Hydra Head)

Boston’s Cave In have been writing soundtracks to non-existent sci-fi movies for about a decade, and with Pitch Perfect Black, they’ve finally made their 2001. It’s something of a return to form for the band, as it is more closely comparable to their 2000 space rock effort Jupiter than 2003’s major-label Antenna, with tracks like “Ataraxia” and “The World Is in Your Way” squealing and crackling like broken interstellar transmissions. Cave In seem to have more intimately embraced their prog roots as well — though Antenna had its fair share of head-flipping time changes and mood shifts, nothing on that album lives up to the noisy, Rush-channeling grandeur of “Off To Ruin,” Pitch Perfect Black‘s finest track. But that doesn’t mean they’ve drowned their mainstream aspirations in a bathtub; rather, Cave In clearly absorbed some of the lessons they learned in crafting Antenna, infusing tracks like “Down the Drain” with double-tracked guitars and subtle textural dalliances that suggest a less heavy-handed version of Incubus.

For a band so heavily influenced by prog rock, Cave In display an amazing amount of restraint, thought that doesn’t prevent them from occasionally losing focus and wandering into static riff-mongering (in fact, skip “Trepanning” entirely). But the complaints are easily overlooked for the sake of the whole, and that’s exactly how Pitch Perfect Black functions best: A 41-minute hyperstellar symphony. Space hasn’t sounded this cool since HAL sang “Daisy.”