Caulfield is a strange name for this band. I would expect a band named after J.D. Salinger’s most famous character to sound like a late '90s emo band à la Elliott or the Promise Ring. However, you can probably take one look at the album cover of Caulfield’s untitled debut LP and realize that you’re not going to get major-key musings on whether or not “Delaware is aware of the air supply.” Instead, Caulfield is a heavy, atmospheric band calling for the dismantling of civilization.
Through five tracks, one of which is the intro “The Calm” and Side B opener “Interlude,” this 26-minute full-length puts most of its meat in three tracks, one of which is the instrumental closer “Holy Storm.” That said, this band makes it work. Unafraid of long moments of tension-building, whether through isolated and simple, clean guitar lines or long, drawn-out gloom-and-doom guitar harmonies, Caulfield knows how to raise the tension level and offer solid releases through heavy breakdowns, occasional death metal blasts, and even some classic hardcore-esque dirty chugging.
Side A’s 11-minute track “Those Who Deny” offers a good overview of what Caulfield does. The song starts with a simple and completely clean guitar line--a pretty rare thing to hear in these days of modern over-production. It then builds into a slow, driving sludge-fest with low-pitched screamed vocals and interesting guitar textures. The band shows its lack of fear by actually slipping into a major key for a half-minute or so before dropping into a super-fast death metal section complete with droning guitar lines and the drummer riding on the bell of the ride cymbal. The mayhem then gives way into an atmospheric slow section with some powerful and interesting drumming before taking one last romp through heaviness to round out the track.
Matching the darkness of the music, the packaging of the LP is pretty cool. It features a 19th century death portrait printed onto a natural cardboard LP sleeve. Holding the LP in person, this thing is actually pretty creepy. The release also includes a nice oversized booklet with medieval woodcarvings and another death portrait featuring a baby. The lyrics to the two songs with vocals are included, with the final lyrics to the record, “Thousands of years of genocide in the name of the holy ghost. Our time has come to arise from the depths, set your bastard god aflame!”
After listening to this record several times, I realized that this band was very similar to Envy in its push and pull between lighter moments and heavy releases. But while Envy invokes, for me, personal contemplation on top of a snowy mountain, Caulfield invokes the lamentation of the loss of pre-civilization peace and recognition of the negativity and cruelty of modern society. Another solid release from A389.