Too Far Gone is the second full length studio album from Cane Hill, the New Orleans quartet of Elijah Witt (vocals), James Barnett (guitar), Ryan Henriquez (bass), and Devin Clark (drums). The album follows on from their 2016 release Smile. I went track-by-track, getting to know Too Far Gone.
The title track was inspired by the band members’ brush with LSD; according to the band, the turning point was when they were watching faces melt in front of them. “Too Far Gone”‘s chaotic expression of boundary-less mania is too good, inspiring repeat listens from nu metal enthusiasts. We lose our bearings along with the band in this reality-bending track which gets progressively more aggressive. It’s hard to tell if this track (and its video) is a cautionary tale or a lot of fun. It works as both.
“Are you mad that you can’t be like me, too far gone?”
With an appreciation for late 90s metal, Cane Hill’s sound is a satisfying time warp for me, sharing their messages in a way that feels fun as well as being direct and to the point. “Lord of Flies” captures that approach well, with taunting melodies and a bounciness while they rip into someone. Huge choruses and what I’d describe as an epic adventure via guitar makes it really easy to like this track.
In Elijah’s words, “Lord of Flies” is about distrust; about “trusting the wrong person because you want to believe they’re something they’re not — whether the person convinced you or you were just too dumb to see it.”
“Singing In The Swamp” literally stopped me in my tracks on my first listen. Following on from the more chaotic and playful vibe of the previous tracks, this track was so ‘together’. Gorgeous riffs and juicy and honest vocals have “Singing In The Swamp” feel impressive as well as huge, and we sit back (in the regret-soaked drug-induced anaesthetic swamp) as James makes this track his own. I’m in love with this tense and beautiful creation.
Ripped out of the swamp, “Erased” shoves us up against our own reflection and we’re plunged into a gut-dropping and surreal dream state where our existence is not as solid as we expected.
Eerie and curious, “Erased” feels like questions we don’t want to face, like “Who have I become?”. This heavy track feels like it could be an uncomfortable observation of Alzheimer’s as Cane Hill faces the inevitable vanishing of themselves out of someone’s life. It’s another view on the theme of being ‘too far gone’, aside from the effect of drugs.
“Now I watch you slip into
A dark state, darker fate, dark for days”
When speaking about the album, the band shared that it is a piece of work that means a lot to them. “It’s the culmination of our own experiences, the pain, the anger, and the hurt. These are our stories.”
“Why?” follows, and takes us into a smoother sound, with sultry pulses, dirty riffs and an otherworldly vibe. It’s easy to lose yourself in this track, feeling like the experience of being mesmerised by someone or something and wanting to get closer to it. The song plays relatively ‘straight’ so the momentary suspended feel of isolated vocals before dropping into a gorgeous expansive ending is beyond satisfying.
By way of the next track “It Follows”, the band refers to it as being ‘a really fun song to write’. It shows, and is a very cool blend of theatricism and heaviness. “It Follows” rolls onward like a relentless machine, with thumping beats, unpredictable guitar accents, and one of the catchiest choruses ever.
A track directed toward white supremacists deserves to feel relentless and aggressive, and the seventh track “Scumbag” is this and more. This face-punch of a track, directed toward holding down the ‘cancer of humanity’ has vocals losing grip on control, pummeling drums, and frantic fingers working together to craft a blunt instrument of denial.
“Hateful” continues the same vibe and virtually breathes fire in distaste. Hostility bleeds; unraveling over the track, with this discomfort-rich but enthralling snapshot of mental overwhelm. With abundant fury, “Hateful” is solid and driving, feeling like a call-to-arms and rallying of inner forces, played out with engaging rhythms.
Still in darker territory, “10c” seems to capture a horrifying out-of-body realisation that heroes die. The entangled riffage and layered vocals express a clarity in the comedown, dropping into a tight sound with broken record eeriness as the track comes to a close. The other side of this coin of realisation being that every one of us are mortal beings. In that fact, we’re all on the same ‘level’.
Dark and apocalyptic here at the final track, “The End.”, it feels like we’re a world away from the playfulness of “Too Far Gone”. Complex and ominous from the introduction, “The End.” pokes at religion and continues the thread of mortality from “10c”. Eerily sobering with its lack of emotion, “The End.” grows in intensity and fire as the track progresses, making a firm statement of finality.
Having absorbed the ten tracks of Too Far Gone, I feel that “Singing In The Swamp” was a shining example of where Cane Hill got it most right on the album. The band were powerfully united as well as individually seeming to be at their best, making for an impressive piece of music. In comparison to this, some of the other tracks felt more directionless; which actually matches with their theme of being under intoxication and out of touch. With Too Far Gone they’ve captured a journey through ecstatic and playful highs before a downward slide through aggression and hatred, to intense lows.
The more cohesive moments made the more scattered moments stand out as areas for improvement.
An intense and interesting dive with impressive musical prowess, in particular exceptional guitar work.