Wrath Of The Bastard

Cave Bastard

Released on 12th November 2021, "Wrath Of The Bastard" is Californian Death Metallers CAVE BASTARD […]
By Santiago Puyol
March 14, 2022
Cave Bastard - Wrath Of The Bastard album cover

Released on 12th November 2021, "Wrath Of The Bastard" is Californian Death Metallers CAVE BASTARD sophomore full-length, the follow-up to 2018's "The Bleak Shall Devour The Earth". This new record is comprised of 9 tracks, including three interludes, and although it remains mostly on Death Metal territory (if slightly techy at times), in also blends elements from other scenes like Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Post-Metal and even a bit of Doom and -core aspects.

After the brief ambient intro "Contaminate-Annihilate", things get to a groovy start with the complex and heavily syncopated "Anti-Vaxxtermination". At first feels almost accessible by genre standards, before the Prog and Death influences clash together, making this a brutal yet dynamic track. Steve Pearce's vocals take more of a Black Metal-ish feel, very shrieky. A few moments recall the more Tech-y side of THE OCEAN while the song structure incorporates BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME-esque sudden shifts that still feel natural. It ebbs and flows towards a climatic end. Troy Oftedal drops some gorgeous deep bass on the breakdown.

"Chaos Unearthed" comes next, riding atop a nasty bassline and some catchy riffing. Deathcore elements appear and the similarities with BTBAM become more apparent, even if it never feels derivative in any way. An interesting mix of growling and shrieking lends the track a lot of personality, and helps keeping things varied while still harsh. There is a beautiful Post-Rockish interlude halfway through, it might be brief but it's such a respite from all the boorish, extreme music. Things get quite Doom-y on the second half of the track, the tempo falling down a few times in dramatic fashion. There is a sense of pensiveness in the tempo shifts, brief glimpses of melancholia amidst the chaos. Another epic finale, as these guys surely know how to stick the landing.

Things slow down a bit for "A Horrible Light", a transitional, Post-Rock interlude. Beautiful clean arpeggi and soft, textural distortion help painting wintery landscapes in the mind. A gentle breather before "Fools Of Enslavement" punches you right in the gut (and the ears!) with mindnumbing strength. It repurposes several melodic ideas hinted at by "A Horrible Light", utilizing them in a much more malign way. Brutal riffing and dense bass work makes this song feel quite oppressive in nature. There seems to be a 10-(or maybe 11-)based rhythmic pattern that pops-up a few times on the track and gives it a broken groove feel, catchy and memorable but still slightly off and unsettling.

"Wrath Of The Bastard" can be slow and dirge-like at times. The title track feels like a very condensed version of everything that came before. It sounds great, it works perfect at a title track. It also shows a few signs of the album starting to retread old ideas, making the final stretch of the record a bit repetitive and stale.

If it didn't have one of the most interesting grooves on the whole record, "The Kreist" would be a bit of a drag. CAVE BASTARD seem to have run of new ideas by this point, and the eclectic nature of the songwriting and the vocal styles begin to feel a bit tiresome. Some fun, late-album surprise could have helped. Aside from some maginificent soloing by Adolfo Acuna, it feels like the band on autopilot. The final third has some of the most beautiful writing on the album, that I would concede.

"Welcome To Oblivion" is yet another brief ambient interlude, heavy on phasing effects, and little more than an extended intro to "Futility En Masse". This closer might be an adequate finale, yet it also suffers a bit of the same issues as the rest of the album's third act. There is the unusual, atonal coda or the mighty riffing of the very start that give something the listener will surely enjoy or at least stand out to them, but it feels like the band are retracing their steps and following a formula. In the end, it is an underwhelming closer, that leaves the listener waiting for something more.

CAVE BASTARD are a talented band, especially when it comes with instrumental prowess, something I highly doubt anyone could put into discussion. The songwriting is tight, sometimes reaching very interesting places, and "Wrath Of The Bastard" has more than adequate production. Still, the album's replay value seems to drop, especially for the last third of the record, where previous ideas start clashing one on top of the other and very few new things pop up to keep the listener's interest.

Maybe with a little self-editing, or minor changes in the tracklist, this sophomore effort could feel more interesting. There is a lot to like here, and if you like your Death Metal groovy, complex and sometimes allowing for soft, melodic spots, then you might even love this record. Let's hope the band leans even more into the eclecticism hinted at by "Wrath Of The Bastard", I'm sure it would pay off!

7 / 10









"Wrath Of The Bastard" Track-listing:

1. Contaminate-Annihilate
2. Anti-Vaxxtermination
3. Chaos Unearthed
4. A Horrible Light
5. Fools Of Enslavement
6. Wrath Of The Bastard
7. The Kreist
8. Welcome To Oblivion
9. Futility En Masse

Cave Bastard Lineup:

Steve Pearce - Vocals
Adolfo Acuna - Guitar
Troy Oftedal - Bass
Sergio Carlos - Drums

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