When Cane Hill released Smile in 2016, it looked as though nu-metal could finally experience something great again. At the time, the genre had already been building its resurgence and updating itself for the 2010s, but with a dark, grinding assault sounding like Slipknot and Korn by way of Alice In Chains, Cane Hill blew the doors wide open as to what could be reasonably expected from this genre. It’s just a shame there wasn’t much payoff. Nu metal has essentially been dormant again throughout 2017, and even of the bands that have been flying the genre’s flag, most of them have been discharge like Backwordz or Emmure that aren’t even worth spitting in the general direction of.
That’s why it’s always good to have a band like Cane Hill around, one that’s not only for the embrace of the harsher, more openly metallic sounds that always do well in nu-metal, but strive to push it beyond its decade-plus-old archetype into something new. And thus we have Too Far Gone, an album borne from the experiences of an intense LSD trip, and from the swamped-out corruption of nu-metal riffage and lyrics that drag life’s more sordid fundamentals even further into the murk, you can really tell. It’s perhaps not as direct of a clobbering as Smile was, but in avoiding their sophomore slump, Cane Hill have managed to peel back another layer of an already mangled psyche for a truly captivating listen.
A big factor of this is how Cane Hill have finally begun to take the reins and consolidate their clear influences into a sound that’s primarily theirs, that being a foundation of grinding Slipknot-esque fury warped by an opaque grunge influence to only exacerbate a constant feeling of dread. Just take Singing In The Swamp with its buzzsaw guitars and oppressively thick bass, topped off with a heady, smoky gutter-blues vocal performance that gives the song an extra layer of dirt. And even though Elijah Witt is still trafficking in blatant Corey Taylor impressions more than he should be (it particularly breaks the immersion on Why? with a higher, more melodic range that’s just as uncomfortable to listen to as it must’ve been to perform), he’s grown into a smart enough vocalist to tailor his breadth of styles into the way the band use theirs, and it’s that greater variety that gives Too Far Gone a leg up from its predecessors. Of course the straight-up nu-metal ragers are here with Lord Of Flies and It Follows, but with the touches of hardcore on Scumbag and creeping psychedelia on The End – not to mention the fact that Cane Hill can in pull full both off – it leaves Too Far Gone as a more fully-formed work than Smile could even hope to be.
That fact feeds down even further into the lyrics, the area in which Cane Hill actually earn the Slipknot and Korn comparisons – particularly in relation to most modern nu-metal – with deeper social and psychological examination rather than underdeveloped angst and adolescent moaning. And in its dissection of one’s own fallibility, it couldn’t be carried more bluntly and aggressively, opening with the indestructible feeling of that formative LSD trip on the title track before everything comes subsequently crashing down, whether that’s Witt’s acceptance of toxic people and self-destructive choices into his life on Lord Of Flies and It Follows, the death of drummer Devin Clark’s grandfather on Erased or the stream of musical icons and heroes gone for good on 10Cents. Considering the reputation for meatheaded posturing and little else that this genre has garnered, Too Far Gone‘s reliance on nu-metal’s early grounding manages to play into all of its strengths, but also avoid any real dating or stagnation.
As such, this is the second full-length in a row where Cane Hill have managed to deftly circumvent the flak and limitations of their genre to produce something of genuine worth and interest. Again, a handful of small issues means it averages out to roughly the same sort of quality, but the progression being made here is unavoidable, with Cane Hill growing into their sound and forging some of their own along the way. The fact that Smile didn’t really resonate the way it should was deeply disappointing; hopefully the same doesn’t happen to Too Far Gone. It’s too good to go ignored.
For fans of: Slipknot, Stray From The Path, Alice In Chains
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Too Far Gone’ by Cane Hill is released on 19th January on Rise Records.