Caldera – Centralia EP

Out of any musical genres out there, doom metal bands always seem to get it right when it comes to the naming process.  It’s not like that absolute glut of stupidity during the nineties where everything was tagged as “alternative” even though there were like fifty different types of music.  But they all had this feeling to them, this feeling that in about five years after the band’s conception it was going to sound legendarily stupid, and they were usually a single word with no real reference to the music itself.  Bush, Silverchair, Helmet.  Doom, though, you hear the name you know what it’s about and typically it encapsulates everything about the band in question.  Which brings us to Caldera.  Coming from Nancy, France, they know all about what we’re discussing here, since their name is a reference to the crater left over after the void of a volcano causes the structure to collapse in on itself.  So it’s all covered there, perfect.  They’ve got a volcano, a void, magma, an explosion, and then collapse, and that’s pretty much what doom metal is all about if you’re doing it right.


Which is largely what you’ll find on the Centralia EP.  Caldera actually has a rather secret career so far as a band with a number of demos and full-lengths since forming in 2001.  Unknown would scarcely be the word at the moment, but we like it that way.  This new one is out there in vinyl with some pretty sick art.  In this case we decided to crop it in half and go with the raven, because it’s simply more interesting and aesthetically pleasing.  The right features the EP’s title and an Eastern European, wooden, Orthodox church in the snow, which is a bit deceptive since Centralia is the legendary town in Pennsylvania with mine fires bellowing up from the earth, which was used as the inspiration for the Silent Hill series.  So it has nothing to do with Orthodoxy, Russia, or anywhere else in Eastern Europe.  Curious choice for the imagery.  Even though the actual church in Centralia is Orthodox, it doesn’t look anything like this.  However, as the press release from the label indicates, Centralia the actual location, not state of being, perhaps, is the overreaching theme on which this short, two-song dip into depression is based.


Centralia EP starts off rather impressively, you know that already because we’re reviewing it.  Caldera rely on space for the bulk of their sound, which is instrumental, featuring some soul-emptying moments of nothingness.  That’s an incredible risk in doom, where vocals are often the watermark that stamps out the work as legitimate.  So they’re already at a disadvantage, but the title track proves they probably will never need a vocalist if they keep their focus.  “Centralia” is one of the most accurate depictions of the town ever presented, but here it’s entirely via music.  The riffs are sparse, dismal in their echoing emptiness, trudging along with a cigarette hanging out of the mouth that hasn’t been lit for over an hour.  It’s like a damp, gray rain falling upon abandonment that soon breaks into powerful, yet pensive distortion with drums dragging their feet miles behind.  You can feel yourself placed within the realm of that decaying Pennsylvanian town, lying on the broken roads as mine filth spews from crevices.  It’s hard not to love, but if there’s one complaint to be had, it’s this, there’s a reason this title track is the name of the EP itself, because it categorically crushes the follow-up.  “Garden of Love”, which is reinterpretation of a track by the same name by Amber Asylum, is somewhat out of place.  The same general sense of Caldera’s sound is there, but since it’s not even their song originally it was probably a mistake to use it.  Thematically, in fact, they might have done better to leave it a one-track album, going with visuals to follow the theme, but regardless this is definitely worth it for what these guys can do in one song along, and that’s a remarkable feat.


Caldera Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Caldera – Centralia EP
Ancient Battle Records
4.4 / 5