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Brushstroke Post-Metal: Cavern’s “Photos of Paintings”

cavern eater

Cavern are an instrumental post-metal duo whose efficient yet expressive music is brimming with textures. Combining guitarist Zack Harkins and drummer Stephen Schrock, the duo craft songs as an intricate dance, constantly reinforcing each other in an evolving exchange of ideas. Cavern abstain from traditional verse-chorus song structures as their compositions unravel organically, themes twisted and reshaped, turned inside-out as the duo explore each idea to the fullest before transitioning to the next.

Join them in their wanderings with our premiere of their new track “Photos of Paintings,” taken from their upcoming record Eater.

Schrock begins the song on the rims of his drums, laying down a groove in seven as Harkins drapes echoing notes overhead. The duo throw in an extra eighth note at the end of each four-bar phrase, lending an extra touch of resolution to the end of the 7-7-7-4 structure. It’s a subtle touch, certainly felt far more than overtly noticed.

Schrock shifts to a snare-based stutter as Harkins flicks on the distortion, ratcheting up the tension until Cavern finally explode into the first cymbal-driven beat of the song. Cavern juggle time signatures with grace, melding seven, four, and three together right under the listener’s nose. “Photos of Paintings” concludes with a maddening blast-beat outro over which ringing chords flow into a tremolo fury, only to cease even more abruptly than it began. It’s a far cry from where the track started four brief minutes ago.

The two musicians are tethered with a tangible bond, their respective parts at any moment of the song complementary and cooperative. There’s no sense of struggle or ego; rather, both members contribute exactly what is needed and not a note more. While Harkins makes extensive use of looping to build more layers than are humanly playable by one person, at no point does the track feel overburdened. Often, it’s Schrock at the fore, with his gunshot snare, shimmering cymbals and fluttering kick. In this regard, his performance can be likened to that of Russian Circles’ Dave Turncrantz, especially in the band’s more turbulent Enter era.

Eater, Cavern’s third release, will be coming out on June 22nd via Grimoire Records. Pre-order the record on Bandcamp.

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