It’s not uncommon for heavier bands to try their hand at another genre, using the odd pop or acoustic track to explore their talents outside their usual down-tuned style. Cane Hill, however, have taken this to the extreme with their latest EP Kill The Sun – a six-track semi-acoustic release produced by Kris Crummett (Dance Gavin Dance, Issues, Alesana), which seemingly covers every genre they’re primarily not.
Considering they released the two strongest tracks ‘Kill The Sun’ and ‘Acid Rain’ as the lead singles, the rest of the EP is somewhat of an anti-climax. The title track, which was released in November, starts as a simplistic, beautiful acoustic-lead ballad, eventually taken over by squealing yet delicate electric guitar riffs which are effectively layered to not overpower Elijah Witt’s surprisingly soft vocals. Although they use drummer Devin Clark’s unexpected saxophone skills as this track’s USP, his repetitive melody sticks out like a sore thumb and is only saved by the high-tuned guitar stealing focus for the most part.
December’s ‘Acid Rain’, on the other hand, stays close to their usual industrial sound while a clear Nine Inch Nails influence can be heard through both the instrumentation and vocal style. The sound of a pic scratching strings and enhanced percussion beats (from both a kit and bongos) gives this a very raw feel and reinforces the acoustic aspect of the track.
Unfortunately, not many of these positives were carried onto the remaining songs. EP opener ‘86d – No Escort’ gets the release off to a confusing start, mixing acoustic guitar melodies with an electronic backing track accompanied by overbearing, piercing metronome clicks, resulting in what sounds like a Nickelback remix. ‘Empty’ somehow manages to express the most interesting take on a genre in the least captivating way as they incorporate Latin funk guitar rhythms but repeat them without much variation, only broken up by ill-fitting electronic sections.
Having such a distinctive vocal style, it's only right that Witt’s diversity should be championed above most elements of this release. He confidently steps away from his Manson-like growls and can be heard accurately hitting falsetto notes with a soft edge in ‘Empty’ and presenting pleasant harmonies in ‘Kill The Sun’. Harsher tones are still heard in the “stoner” tracks ‘Acid Rain’ and ‘Smoking Man’ which create a direct link to their previous heavy releases, while deep electronically enhanced lines can be heard throughout.
Although it’s understandable what Cane Hill were attempting here, it’s resulted in a mismatched collection of random recordings that don’t appear to follow any musical theme other than ‘generally a bit odd’.