Joe Haryanto – Vocals & Bass,
Jake Quinn – Guitar,
Cliff Cazeau – Drums & Vocals.
2. Skeleton Crew
3. Children Of Men
5. Failure To Thrive
Like with most genres these days, it’s a helluva difficult task to stand out and be heard. There is greater opportunity, but a flooded market. The trick, then, is to attempt to find yourself a niche and offer something somewhat unique (again, no easy task). With that, New England’s CAZADOR return to the fray with their first effort since 2017’s “Broken Sun”. So what they got?
“Failure To Thrive” will come as little surprise to fans of the post-metal subgenre, as it sits right at home with the greats. The band themselves, or at least the PR pack, cites the likes of ISIS and NEUROSIS as influences alongside POISON THE WELL and metal titans DEFTONES, and it’s very easy to see the respective stamps throughout the album. Now that is not to say that CAZADOR are ripping large, as this is the good kind of “showing your influences”. The band takes a pinch of this and that from each, and distills it into something all their own which is at once cathartically aggressive as it is introspectively calming.
This presents itself as something of a blueprint throughout the album – with a core four songs going for similar approaches. With “Skeleton Crew”, the early doors roar of chunky riffs and dissonant arpeggios segues into a flowing calm, like a drive through a mountain range with clouds tumbling down over the hills. Then the riffs return not before long to a rapturous crescendo – something that’s repeated on other bruisers such as the title track and “Sassafras”, albeit a little more sinisterly for the latter. “Kingdom” changes things up by waking slowly and peacefully, like on an easy Sunday morning, before the thunder clatters about later, but it all works pleasantly enough. Cleverly done.
It would be easy to criticise for a formulaic approach on most records, especially when the others are voyages into ambience and picture painting (save for the hardcore slap of “Comey”), but that would be a disservice. The post-metal genre should take you out of your seat and into a different headspace altogether with a heady mixture of catharsis, emotion and euphoria. So the obvious question is: do CAZADOR achieve this? To a degree, they do. There is a pleasant beauty in their ambience that marries neatly with the contrasting heavier parts, which gives it a lovely and warm degree of familiarity. There isn’t anything untoward about the record, nor does it run the risk of overstepping its welcome with over-indulgence – it is, overall, a fine, refined piece of work.
It doesn’t break the mould, but CAZADOR’s sophomore release doesn’t need to. It fits comfortably alongside the genre’s standards and successfully navigates a route of its own. There is something of a formula that threads throughout, whilst the twinkling clean passages of guitar do feel a little same-y after a while, but it achieves the aim of invoking thought. “Failure To Thrive”? Certainly not and CAZADOR can feel confident in their steady ascension up the metal pyramid. Their voice may not be alone, but it’s there and strong.