Swedish doom band Cavern Deep formed in 2019, with their debut self-titled debut coming out around two years after that. Compared to some of the others in the genre, Cavern Deep came out of the gate with a fully form sound and lyrical concept that was already very fleshed out. Musically they took elements of traditional doom and wove in haunting psychedelic soundscapes and other atmospheric melodies, while lyrically they told a story of an archaeological expedition gone wrong as its crew experienced all sorts of perils underground. For follow-up Part II- Breach, the band has continued the narrative from their first album and pushed their sound outwards towards even grander arrangements. It's a stunning effort that creates a warm and enveloping tone which draws the listener in while still maintaining quite a bit of tension and is sure to appeal to fans of everything from doom to progressive rock.
Slow and methodical is the name of the game here, and the title track kicks things off with moodier synths and slow burning riffs that expand outwards naturally over the song’s almost eight-minute run. You’re never quite sure what you’re getting with a doom band you haven’t heard before, as the genre covers so much ground, but Cavern Deep’s core sound falls somewhere between the weight of traditional doom with some of the crunchier tonality of the stoner rock/metal side of the spectrum. Over top of this foundation the band layers sweeping melodies that are delivered by both the guitar and synthesizer, wrapping everything in a warm haze that brings in a considerable amount of psychedelic rock and progressive rock tone. There are some genuinely heavy moments on Part II- Breach, but this isn’t the focus and instead much of the album is spent exploring softer, muted textures that are layered into sweeping and huge sounding climaxes. In this regard the songwriting sometimes feels like it’s using the structure of post rock or post metal and running through it a traditional doom filter, and that gives Cavern Deep a slightly different feel than some of their peers. Each song flows seamlessly into the next making for a cohesive listen, but there are also individual moments that stand out upon repeat listens. “A World Bereaved” and “Skeletal Wastes” in particular are stunning, with the former utilizing a guitar tone that reminds me of airier prog rock mixed with a little bit of Radiohead’s OK Computer and the latter moving from lurching doom into a flurry of haunting synths. The promo for Part II- Breach came with “The Attuning” as a bonus track, which was released last year as a standalone single meant to bridge the gap between both full lengths. I’m not clear on whether it’s included with the CD version or was just included here to give more context, but it helps to further showcase the expanded sound Cavern Deep was going for on this album when compared to its predecessor.
The vocals are another area where Cavern Deep differentiates themselves, as you won’t find any screams or growls throughout Part II- Breach. Instead, the approach is closer to traditional doom and hard rock with somber, powerful singing that towers over the recording. Multiple members of the band contribute singing, and when they harmonize you get some truly beautiful and haunting arrangements. There’s quite a bit of variety to the performance too, as you not only get softer ranges that have more of a Pallbearer vibe but also much lower pitches that bring in a more gothic doom sound. A few of these moments even approach Peter Steele’s range, and while there are a few awkward passages (particularly on “A World Bereaved” where some of the singing sounds slightly off) there isn’t anything that fully derails the impact of this material. “Primordial Basin” brings in Susie from Brume as a guest, and her singing brings a more ethereal tone to this track that works well with Cavern Deep’s members. I won’t get too much into the narrative for the sake of brevity, but it does head in some even darker directions than its predecessor and I appreciate how the group is able to tie these two releases together so seamlessly.
Cavern Deep has kept a steady pace since their formation, but this workmanlike pace hasn’t made their material any less impactful. Part II- Breach sprawls further outwards, taking some of the psychedelic and prog leaning elements of their debut and letting it envelop their music in a haze that will suck listeners in and not let them go until the conclusion. While not as heavy or crushing as some doom, the atmosphere is just as tense and this makes for an album worth returning to. It has a few vocal quirks and a few passages feel just a tad overstretched, but this is still a fantastic effort from a band I’ll continue to be keeping an eye on. Part II- Breach is available from Bonebag Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg