After three years when the musical sentiment was largely fear, ennui, and processing trauma in public, we begin 2023 with what seems to be a simmering anger. Perhaps because it’s hard to do heavy music in ones and twos, we haven’t seen a whole lot of it in the past couple years, but bands like Capisic, Milk St., Roseview, Johnny Cremains and more are now back and active and releasing new work.
At the front of the pack is the new work from Cadaverette. “We Are Everything, but … Not Anything,” a seven-song album that stretches out past 37 minutes, is something of a step-change in maturity and production value from the four-piece band’s previous two works. It also got a little notoriety once word got around that the album-release party back in December might have served as the band’s swan song.
But not so, says guitarist and songwriter Logan Abbey. “We’re definitely not broken up,” he assures me. It was just a farewell show for lead singer Reesa Wood, who’s left the band after seven years to focus on her heavy-country project Draudiga and generally move on with her life. Oh, and to protect her vocals — for many of Cadaverette’s songs, she uses a screamo delivery common in hardcore acts.
The good news is Abbey and Cadaverette have found a replacement in August West (like the Grateful Dead character from “Wharf Rat,” Abbey notes), who is actively rehearsing with the band and hopes to be ready for the touring in May. At first blush, the outsider-folk that West plied on November’s “At the End, You Meet God” would seem to fit the more melodic, proggy direction Cadaverette’s new album indicates.
But then there is the screaming. According to Abbey, West is taking baby steps here, but it’s coming along.
“She’s kind of taking what Reesa did, but doing it in her own style,” Abbey says. “I’ve already written another six songs for the next album, and with her I think we work really well together. She’s a great lyricist, which is easy to see from the long list of solo albums she’s released. She doesn’t go as high as Reesa — she’s in a lower range — but she’s learning to scream properly.”
It’s also true that the new Cadaverette album is less dependent on Wood’s screaming for success. With Dan Capaldi (Sea Level, etc.) not just drumming, but engineering and producing the record, and God City Studio pro Kurt Ballou (Converge, etc.) mixing, there is more nuance here than previous efforts. That allows Wood to be more delicate in places, and pick her screamo spots more pointedly.
In “Against the Wall,” the band opens with a chord progression that could be Goo Goo Dolls with a different pedal array, then bring in guitar runs and pops like drive-by melodies. Wood enters biting and sarcastic, offering for you to “watch my skin turn gray” before the band launch into a classic metal construction where Abbey and bassist Ian Riley lay in vocals.
Then comes the power: “I understand that I am too much / You understand I am too much.” She does everything too much. She’s too big for the world. The scream is higher pitched, and then it’s very much not. She goes big, with desperation beyond anger. The song is best, though, when she moves into a baby doll affect: “I don’t love you / I just fuck you / You don’t love me / We’re just fucking.”
The band, too, does good work building in dynamic changes of pace and volume. “Tapping the Green Vein” has a martial opening and the vocal from Wood is almost rap-rock, then the guitars riff in a pop-punk way, then settle into a slow-motion headbang before launching full speed-metal.
Then, out of nowhere, it’s a classic rock guitar solo at 4:15 that sounds southern fried and definitely echoes back to Abbey’s jam band roots.
The album is not quite a “spin the radio dial” experience, but it’s definitely a wild ride. Five of the seven songs are six minutes or longer, and who knows how long they’ll stretch out live, as Abbey says they’re leaning into improvisation on stage.
If you’re not a regular listener to heavy rock or more-challenging progressive metal, Cadaverette’s sound will take some getting used to. After a few years of music that’s a little softer around the edges, though, you may be ready to sit with this and rock out and scream right along.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at [email protected].
Two Weeks, Five Songs
Lemon Pitch – “California Commando” (Repeating Cloud) | Quirky and fun, melodic and not, Lemon Pitch are back for a second album and this is the first single. Will it sound like the rest of the record? Who knows? With three songwriters and lead singers, it’s a box of chocolates to look forward to.
Anthony St. Peter – “Cloud 9” (self-released) | The first single of a new full album, “A Familiar War,” this should appeal to Phish fans and other big/jam-band enthusiasts, with organ backing and guitar solo, even though St. Peter is a solo act for now.
Myles Bullen – “heartonfire<3” (self-released) | Bullen’s on fire, for real, and his newest is some of his best work, an amalgam of video-game beeps and crisply rapped couplets. Not sure there’s a better lyricist in Maine right now.
Nick Hersom – “The Last One” (self-released) | Hersom’s a strong guitar player and he integrates a mandolin here nicely, with just a touch of percussion, a little bit like young Dave Matthews. The full album, “Revenant,” is worth a spin.
Boy Blujay – “Hard to Love” (self-released) | A new entrant to the local hip-hop/R&B scene, Blujay has a lot of pop influences, with some Ed Sheeran and Billie Eilish feels. Very listenable.