Cavity has cemented itself in the annals of music history with its pioneering take on Black Sabbath-inspired, down-tuned metal sludge. If that’s a mouthful, so is reading a list of members past and present.
Not unlike the Kevin Bacon game, many of South Florida’s musicians can trace lineage by association to this band. Back in full force, and with a new lineup to hit the road, founder and sole band constant Dan Gorostiaga is ready to tackle the next phase.
“When they asked, I said yes,” an enthusiastic Andrew McLees remarks. “I didn’t ask why. It’s damn near impossible to turn down the chance to play for arguably one of the best Miami sludge bands of all time.” McLees, known for his work in outfits such as Other Body, joins longtime guitarist Ed Matus on the six-string attack.
Drumming duties for this incarnation have been taken up by Torche’s Rick Smith, and with this infusion of relative youth, the band has rechristened itself as Cavity AD — and it makes perfect sense for a musical collective that has always pushed the boundaries of sound.
With its most recent release, the stripped-down After Death, Cavity has moved into new territory. Away from a studio and under zero time restraints, Gorostiaga, Matus, and singer Rene Barge crafted a four-song LP to their liking and with their current moods in mind.
The record is solid, but it's also different and a little askew from the catalog many fans have come to worship. Its avant-garde, minimalist electronics give it a different flavor from previous releases.
Barge, who’s been away from the limelight as an instrumentalist, has carved a niche for himself as a visual and sound artist and has had notable works with artists such as David Dunn and Gustavo Matamoros.
“When working with sound as a medium, I perform to find new ways of listening for my own personal pleasure, preoccupied with my own interests,” Barge explains. “When working with Cavity AD, I am also working with sound as a medium, and I am approaching it in the same way, to find new ways of listening and performing for my own pleasure, preoccupied with my own interests.”
That gels with the influx of ideas and energy the new members bring to the table. McLees, a self-taught musician, applied his abstract, textural ideas and diverse musical vocabulary to the finished product. Ultimately, however, it's the renewed involvement of Barge, whose enigmatic onstage persona helped establish the band back in the day, that draws the most attention. Although it's difficult to think of a Cavity without his voice, he seemed to distance himself from the band when they “broke up” more than a decade ago.
“When Cavity began to do live shows again, it did not feel very good. On the surface, I felt I was covering my own songs,” Barge says. “Because it had been so long, I felt like I was in a cover band covering my own songs and I was beholden to the audience.”
But something did awake inside him. Citing experience and age, Barge saw his interest in the project grow, and he now looks forward to performing onstage. For those who never had the chance to see Cavity when the sludge-metal scene was populated by crusty punks with white-boy dreadlocks, this show should be a treat.
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Outside of Miami, whenever Cavity took the stage, the clean-cut, collected, college-TA-looking band always took the crowd by surprise. Seconds later — with the first droning notes, the ascending thunder of tribal drums, and Barge’s barely contained rage — everyone knew Cavity was the real deal.
“I think Cavity is riding a different brainwave now,” McLees reflects. “The guys want to explore what it means to be heavy in 2017 on their own terms. I want to be a part of something like that, something that’s consistently evolving, something a little weird yet still punishing.”
With Other Body and Prison Warden. 9 p.m. Saturday, July 1, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-699-2669; gramps.com. Admission is free.