Cave - Hunt Like Devil
Record Label: Permanent Records
Release Date: February 1, 2008
In the event you’d picked up Cave’s Hunt Like Devil by accident while shopping for Nick Cave or Cave-In, chances are you’d be pleasantly surprised by what these lesser known Chicago greats have got to offer. Not that they sound at all like either of the aforementioned musical legends, but actually that’s the point: they don’t really sound too much like anything.
Hunt Like Devil’s palate of slow-building experimental jamming is trancelike, repetitive to the point of familiarity but never to the point of annoyance – think Ministry, but without the obnoxious vocals. The music has the ability to make you think about absolutely nothing, a quality which I will attribute to the droning bass lines that underscore each track. It just completely clears your head; it’s perfect to listen to during a break at work or whenever you want to be somewhere else.
However, every prescription has its side effects. Noisy wall-of-sound dynamics crash the listener out of that lull. These spastic moments cloud the recording perfectly, particularly during the Boris-like guitar freakouts of “HLD 2” and “HLD 3,” which contrast the otherworldly hum of "Annihilated Sludge Flow" like crazy. I’d be careful putting this on during driving, speaking from experience. In fact, I wouldn’t operate heavy machinery or lift anything while listening to this album either.
These songs are unique and the group is talented musically, but I'll admit their style is pretty much hit or miss. There isn’t really much melody to cling to and there are no catchy refrains, so people who aren’t familiar with industrial music should steer clear. But what Cave do they do well; this is more or less the definitive indie record store soundtrack - mysterious, dynamic, endlessly interesting, and 100% radio-proof.
Cave would probably have caught more listeners attentions if it they had released records during the late 90’s Big Beat era when Fatboy Slim and The Chemical Brothers dubbed themselves “alternative” for a quick second in the sun. They were born just a little too late to get the glory that they deserve, to be the rightful earners of the attention we gave to The Crystal Method for some reason. No, Cave aren’t poppy and hummable like the artifacts of that commercial trend – they’re noisy and dark, but if Add N to X were ever marketable, then...
While Cave is totally destined for the underground (Get it? Cave?), they don’t belong buried in it. Despite the somewhat forgettable name and a Myspace page I had to really search for, they’re a memorable group who ought to be moving up the indie latter straight into the pages of SPIN magazine any day now - even if the listener gets the impression they're pretty happy where they’re at right now in the darkest mines of musical obscurity.