(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Editor, RiffRelevant.com)
The New York-based Caves Of Utah is the latest rock band to be created by guitarist and composer Billy Fridrich. Billy’s legacy of bands and projects is an admirable one to say the least, and one that encompasses various styles and genres of music.
From his work with Nasoni Records, to the stoner / groove band Axis/Orbit, or the hard rock of Signal The Sun, all the way to his funk-rock project Eight Feet Deep, Fridrich gets around. Such getting around is the sure sign of an ignited inferno of artistry burning within Billy, so much that it seems he must always be creating something.
What he, and fellow musicians Matt Greco (vocals), Micky James (bass) and drummer Bobby Rondinelli (yes, THAT Bobby Rondinelli whose résumé includes Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, Rainbow, Quiet Riot and more) have crafted here is, simply put, magnificent.
This five song self-titled début from Caves Of Utah is an intricate masterpiece, an astounding opus of opulent progressive rock.
With the blistering hard rock free-for-all that is the opening cut “The Ancients“, the band unfurls a groove fest right out of the gate. Keeping a mid-tempo pace locked down, each member rides that tightly knit groove for all it’s worth. A bit of a swing styling ripples from the rhythm section, as Billy fires off salvos of incendiary guitar scorching. All this while, Greco’s bluesy, gravelly and perfectly delivered vocals punctuate the seemingly Sci-Fi oriented lyrics.
Though the opener set the bar extremely high, next up is the stand-out song of this effort for me, the formidable “Oceans“. A bit of Bonham-esque drums roll out the flow of a song that quickly becomes somewhat haunting and steeped in mysteriousness. The darker, heavier and headier elements of this track are profoundly present from the start.
Everyone carries water here, each member providing their chosen component to the utmost and the results are just remarkable. Drums detonate, bass lines resonate, vocals emanate… all while the guitar work permeates the track moment by moment. Further Sci-Fi / Supernatural lyrical content weaves a fantastic tale of otherworldly visitors and the lasting remnants of their periodic presences here on Earth.
Things take a poignant melodic turn with “Sisters“, a song very much in the style of one of Rondinelli’s former bands, Blue Öyster Cult. Mellower nuances take flight on the track’s airier mode and delivery. It is truly the calm before the storm though, as it’s followed by the full-on heavy stomp of the intensely rocking “The Only One“.
Powered by thick, smoking riffs and densely compacted rhythms, the guys keep it so close to the vest that it’s deep in the pocket. Fuzz and effects accentuate things, while Greco delivers a stellar vocal performance on this selection. In fact, the entire foursome get all fantastic on the track, each holding the spotlight to shine at the designated time.
Things wind down quite a bit with the touching content of “Four Hearts“, an emotionally uplifting number. Airy flare and texturally pleasant sonics provide an enjoyable ballad that, at times, seems to throwback to those from the greats of the Eighties (ala Guns & Roses, Extreme, King’s X, etc.). Billy’s injections of fiery guitar moments contrast oh-so nicely with the song’s melodic, atmospheric content.
All in all and in closing, the Caves Of Utah début EP, this collection of compiled works, is a superb introduction, indeed. It traverses a broad spectrum of genres and styles, all of which showcases the talent of the band, both together and individually.
Hopefully Caves Of Utah has achieved a life of its own and there will be follow-up releases to compliment this stunning début. Stream the self-titled EP from Caves Of Utah via Bandcamp below and hear for yourself how killer they are.
You can purchase it for a more than reasonable price at this location.