Artist: Cane Hill
Album: Too Far Gone
Growing up, I had a number of friends who were always…well, for lack of a better word, mischievous. It was, and still is, an inherent part of my personality to go out of my way to try and help them—help them evade trouble, help them better themselves, so on—but sometimes, you just can’t. I’m sure many people had this experience, and hell, maybe you still do. The point is that there are things and people that exist in the world which are simply beyond helping.
They’re Too Far Gone.
In a haphazard way, the same logic applies to Cane Hill’s aptly titled second full-length release. Where their breakout EP showed promise, their first full-length record faltered, attempting to appeal too heavily to nostalgia and sacrificing much of their unique edge. Too Far Gone sees Cane Hill start to retrace their steps—but instead of ending up back at square one, they find themselves further lost somewhere between the two styles. On one hand, they’re miles away from both Smile and their debut EP—but infinitely closer to a sound which reveals how truly extraordinary they are. Too Far Gone is a series of unapologetic anthems, wherein Cane Hill still proudly boast their love of nu-metal, but infuse more of themselves into it, giving the listener something simultaneously tinted by timeless nostalgia and cutting edge.
Too Far Gone is a dark record that uses a brazen nu metal framework as a foundation and fills it out with equal parts metallic and -core influences. The introductory number and title track, “Too Far Gone” establishes this without wasting any time at all—using punchy drumming and a snappy, extraordinarily prominent bass tone to quickly pummel the listener with energetic abuse. Drummer Devin Clark is almost constantly busy throughout Too Far Gone’s approximately forty-minute run time, and while the introductory number happens to be an excellent example, it certainly isn’t the only example. “Erased” and “Scumbag Fix” are two more of the album’s quicker and more intense songs—in which Clark is bustling from start to finish—While “Singing in the Swamp” or “Lord Of Flies” are more balanced and feature dirging, metallic choruses to break up the blistering nu-infused insanity of the verses. Where Clark is busy, bassist Ryan Henriquez is as well, bringing back the late-90s ultra-loud bass mix which sees his fretwork rivaling guitarist James Barnett’s for the listener’s attention. “Too Far Gone” or “10 Cents” might be the best examples of this interplay; where Barnett sticks to higher-strung leads, Henriquez dominates the low end—with just enough treble to stand out—such the bass roars right alongside the guitar. This isn’t as prominent in “Lord of the Flies,” nor is it as noteworthy in “The End,” which is good: it gives Cane Hill a more versatile soundscape and prevents the onset of monotony.
Traditionally—as with many nu metal bands—I’ve always had the most contention with the vocal style. Where this severely diminished my enjoyment of Smile, frontman Elijah Witt’s work on Too Far Gone is much more varied, vicious and unique. More versatile than ever before, Witt’s harsh vocals take the lead on several tracks Cane Hill put forth—with raw, ruthless screams and refined, honed low bellows showing up on “Too Far Gone,” “Scumbag Fix,” “10 Cents” and many more. Where he isn’t bellowing or screeching, Witt is singing with a voice that I can best describe as greasy—like the kind of smooth, slick and untrustworthy croon one might expect from the Devil in disguise. At other points, he channels more traditional metal artists; this is abundant during the chorus of “The Lord Of Flies.” Where it’s hard to say whether that vocal style truly fits the song, it’s certainly new and sees Witt expanding his style and coming out of his comfort zone—something which, for better or worse, must be commended.
With the only obvious pitfalls found within the chorus of “The Lord of Flies” (which, again, is really up for individual interpretation) and the repetitive nature of the album’s melancholy closing number, Too Far Gone is definitely a success for Cane Hill. Where some of the songs on the release see Cane Hill still stuck in channeling the nu metal of yesteryear (or yesterdecade), they’re unremarkable at worst—with most of the tracks leaving an undoubtedly positive impression. If you’re still not “on board” with the nu metal revival, Too Far Gone is probably…well, too Far gone for you; but if you’re open to seeing the movement near the top of its game, look no further than Cane Hill’s sophomore full length.
For Fans Of: Slipknot, VCTMS, My Enemies & I, Korn
By: Connor Welsh