Nu-Metal doesn’t half get some stick, to the point where it has become the laughing stock sub-genre within the metal scene. Riding the crest of a new (nu? – Ed) wave of this beaten, bloody pulp style of metal is Cane Hill, whose 2016 debut record Smile (Rise) proved to be very divisive – not dissimilar to the way Korn and Limp Bizkit were treated back in the early Nineties, and look how that turned out in the end.
Those who delved into Smile found a band far more adept at songwriting than simply knocking out nu-metal bangers, with the band themselves dismissive of any genre tags associated with their music. Instead, there were subtle nods to both Alice In Chains and Pantera, and these are the elements and sounds that have been expanded upon on their sophomore record, Too Far Gone (Rise Records).
Opening with easily the most aggressive song the band has penned to date, the title track, the album rips out of the gate. There is still all the groove in the world, but it is the thrashier guitars that really stands out – it’s all down-picking goodness from axeman Elijah James, as he channels his inner James Hetfield. There is also a really cool solo which, while not flashy, sounds like a nod to the late, great Dimebag Darrell.
Elsewhere Cane Hill get to work creating more moodier songs than before. Take the gloriously sludgy vibes of ‘Singing in The Swamp’. Songs like this are a perfect example of frontman Elijah Witt’s vocals have progressed and been utilised in a far more considered way. Witt provides some truly standout moments throughout the record’s runtime. ‘Lord Of Flies’ continues to show just how diverse Cane Hill can be, sounding like Facelift-era AIC jumping in the sack with Slipknot; Witt sounding eerily like Layne Staley in all his glory.
Perhaps the best song on the whole thing is ‘Why?’, a deliciously dark and brooding little number touched with melancholia that really shows just what Cane Hill are capable of in terms of twisting their influences, and indeed your perceptions of just who exactly you’re listening to.
As difficult second albums go, this is a triumph for Cane Hill they have managed to bring grunge and groove metal together into one big melting pot and have created some truly great songs. Ignore this album and this band at your peril!