A new name for me. Golden Caves is a five piece comprising Alex Ouwehand (guitars), Romy Ouwerkerk (vocals), Eri Stein (drums), Elise Polman (keyboards) and Tim Wensink (bass). Apparently, the members of the band were all students at the Rotterdam arts college Codarts. Here they met in 2013, formed the group and released their debut EP in December of that year. After that, they started gigging in the Rotterdam area. The first 'single' (see comment at the end of review) My Demons Hunt came out in April 2015 and then the band shifted their priorities and concentrated on graduating. In late 2015, a second 'single' Bring Me To The Water was recorded. This was released as another EP, combined with the first 'single' and re-mastered versions of earlier demo material. Plans for the future include playing more live gigs in 2016 and to produce a full-length debut album in 2017.
The CD before me thus contains two 'proper' tracks and five demos. Because of that, expectations were pretty low, but I was pleasantly surprised. The disc was produced and mixed by Christiaan Bruin and he clearly deserves credits for the quality of the sound.
The opening title track is at first characterized by some fine rhythm work with great bass work. Quickly, warm and powerful female vocals join in and instruments and voice together create some fantastic atmosphere. The music leans a bit towards the poppier end of female fronted sympho/gothic metal in the style of Lacuna Coil and the like, but I think that Romy's voice is a bit more soulful compared to Cristina Scabbia's. The second track My Demon's Hunt could well have been the title track from a James Bond movie with Romy in a more jazzy mood (she also reminds me slightly of Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders, who interestingly sung two tracks for 007). There is some nice slide guitar (a lap steel maybe?) in there, by the way, and fine soulful backing vocals leading to a great finale. The demo tracks sound remarkably well, and to be honest, if I hadn't been informed that they are in fact demos I wouldn't have guessed so. The first of these, Hey You, starts with some powerful bass again and treats us to some organ (all too briefly) but has some nice widdly keys in the background. This track is one of the heavier on the disc and shows some clear familiarity to Lacuna Coil-like bands, as does the next piece Colors. Nature takes us to totally different places. An interesting piano pattern, loose percussion and jazzy vocals open, then we move into a more symphonic part before we're back to the sparkling almost Latin-feeling opening theme. And so the piece shifts back and forth. Great stuff. Strangers returns to the heavier side of the band with soaring guitars and Romy showing the full spectrum of her impressive vocal abilities from powerful to soulful to introspective. The final piece Exhilaration provides a total contrast with some solo piano opening, then wind sounds and chimes joining in. There is a slow build up with dreamy vocals and suddenly the EP is over all too soon.
All in all I am looking forward for this talented band's first full-length album. As promised, a little comment on the word'single', and the reason why I put it between quotation marks. The biographies and promotion from some contemporary bands may mention the release of'singles', but I seriously doubt if this is really so. Not according to traditional standards anyway. For people born after 1988 and those with bad memories just some basic facts: a single (without quotation marks) is a musical release pressed on a slab vinyl with a diameter of 7 inches. It is possible to do them on 12” vinyl or CD, but then the word single gets an addendum (i.e. 12”-single, maxi-single, or CD-single). A song released online is in NO way EVER a single. Just saying.
***+ Carsten Busch (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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