Artist: Cane Hill
Album: Cane Hill – EP
The turn of the decade saw the formal “rebirth” of the red headed stepchild of 1990’s heavy music: Nu-metal. While it was at first a subtle movement—confined to metalcore bands incorporating more bounce and flow into their breakdowns—it quickly exploded. Now, closing in on 2016, “Nu-metalcore” has practically legitimized itself as a genre, with a moment as large as the devotion of its ever-hungry fan base. Case-in-point: recent Rise Records addition and explosive Nu-metalcore quintet, Cane Hill. Sounding like Slipknot’s chunky cousin, this New Orleans Onslaught leapt head-first into the heavy music community with their debut single, “Sunday School.” Instantly establishing their polarizing position as nu-metal’s prodigal prince, the band are finally poised to release their debut self-titled EP, an album that combined no-holds-barred heaviness with catchy choruses and sparse industrial influence to catch the listener’s ear with a remarkably unique sound—even if what the listener does with it once caught is a case-by-case scenario.
Cane Hill are neither absurdly heavy nor poppy and light (well, light for their style of music)—instead they combine perfect ratios of bouncy, energetic nu-metal with hard-hitting, violence-inciting breakdowns straight out of the modern metalcore playbook. Percussionist Devin Clark leads the charge, providing a solid, steady foundation for Cane Hill’s sound to spring forth from. Tracks like the quick, catchy “Time Bomb” are excellent examples of this—as Clark’s quick, yet rudimentary, drumming paves the way for bassist Ryan Henriquez to work with, crafting dynamic, gritty grooves that add a fluid low end to the band’s song structure. Clark and Henriquez establish this relationship early on and keep it going throughout the EP’s duration, giving “Fat of the Land” a punchy, pummeling low end, as well as keeping the lighter, softer chorus of “Screwtape” grounded. Together, Clark and Henriquez give guitarists Bemo and James Barnett a platform from which to craft quick, ruthless riffs and low-down-and-filthy grooves. The Barnetts work together as a dynamic duo—crafting dancy, dynamic passages of two-step-tinted speed and dissonant portions of skin-shredding aggression on each track. “OxBlood” and “Time Bomb” are two incredible examples—each track with sections that are both contagiously catchy and crushing, linked together with solid, sound musicianship.
Cane Hill are a dynamic act that borrow influence from legendary, genre defining acts (Slipknot, Korn among others) and underground bringers-of-the-heavy both. If this isn’t immediately evident in the band’s dynamic musicianship, it certainly is in the vocals and lyrics of frontman Elijah Witt. Witt is influenced by everything from idioms of his past to contempt for contemporary society—and Cane Hill is his soapbox upon which he can stand to deliver demented sermon after demented sermon. Where “Time Bomb” is catchy and energetic, “Gemini” is crooning and eerie—and the bizarre, off-putting interlude “French 75” is just plain weird. However, each track is a testament to Witt’s wicket dynamic and remarkable versatility. His haunting chants on “Gemini” are something that might appear in a nightmare, while his ferocious barks and shouts on “Fat of the Land” sound like a meld of Emmure and King 810—in the best way possible. Where his work on “French 75” might not earn Witt any points towards the album’s overall score (it being the only truly skip-worthy song on the release), it does shine a light on his more obscure talents—making him a fearsome voice in an era where it is growing harder and harder to be a standout vocalist.
If Night of the Living Nu was a movie, Cane Hill’s debut would surely be its soundtrack. Between the band’s eccentric choices of eviscerating heaviness and upbeat energy, topped off by Witt’s vocal prowess, any listener would be hard pressed to say the band aren’t unique. However, proven time and time again, being unique often comes with the price of polarization. Simply put, most heavy music enthusiast will either love or hate Cane Hill—depending entirely on their opinion of nu metal’s second coming. Those who detested the genre the first time around aren’t likely to have their mind changed by Cane Hill’s self titled release. However, those who fell in love with Slipknot, Korn and Adema in middle school will likely find solace in the revamped-and-ruthless re-awakening of the genre within Cane Hill. Both punchy and pulverizing, the band’s debut is an excellent display of prodigal talent, only barely flirting with monotony during its moderate, full run time. Proving prowess with both melody and murderous heaviness both, Cane Hill craft a release rife with promise—earning them a spot on many metalheads’ most-anticipated list.
For Fans Of: Slipknot, Emmure, Like Moths to Flames, Korn
By: Connor Welsh