Leave it to a nu-metalcore group from the deep South to write one of the most visceral and scathing anti-fascist anthems in recent memory: “Scumbag”. It’d be surprising if Louisiana’s Cane Hill weren’t already a group known for the unexpected. Their boisterous debut, Smile, showcased a burgeoning talent at modernizing spastic, noisy, and industrial-laced nu-metal, even if the album’s lack of nuance (or melody, for that matter) resulted in a record that was certainly fleeting fun but hinted at greater things to come. A lot has changed since 2016, in the world and for the band, who decided that their love of LSD and alcohol had, um, gone too far. Their newfound relative sobriety made them rethink who they are as people and musicians, and while their sophomore record still oozes the same influences (Slipknot, Korn, Marilyn Manson), Too Far Gone is a stark and mesmerizing departure.
Most notably, Cane Hill have truly discovered themselves as songwriters, as this is a wonderfully diverse and dynamic listen. Chilling melodies are now the norm, as vocalist Elijah Witt has clearly grown between albums. His manic and aggressive harsh vocals haven’t quite gone away, but he understands how to use the full range of his voice to impressive effect. Songs are also much more focused in general, allowing honest-to-God riffs and hooks to rule the game. The band haven’t forgotten their hardcore influences, especially in the dazzling “Scumbag” and “10 Cents”, though the latter serves as an encapsulation of the band’s growth. The injection of Alice in Chains-styled guitar solos and a slyly captivating hook that all lead into a stunning breakdown. If only the record stopped there, as the album’s final track, “The End” feels relatively aimless and ineffective comparatively. The only other stutter is “Hateful” which manages to sound a little too much like a mix of Corey Taylor’s two bands: Slipknot and Stone Sour.
Aside from those two minor stumbles, Too Far Gone is quite an achievement. Cane Hill has broadened its scope and redefined who they are. Sure, much of what makes the band tick is still also what made nu-metal so effective for my generation, but there’s a focus and maturity on display here that goes far beyond recycled Slipknot and Korn ideas. Cane Hill are morphing into their own vision, and it’s a rather beautifully ugly technicolor dream. You also get the sense that the band are still in mid-transition, that they have even more potential. As it stands, Too Far Gone is a masterclass in making modern nu-metal feel energized and, well, “new” again, and it’s a Hell of an album.