“We almost killed each other,” Cadaverette vocalist Reesa Wood confessed when we sat in the band’s sparse, purple-toned rehearsal space at Portland’s Grime Studios discussing their new album, We Are Everything, But… Not Anything.
Nearly two years in the making, with a new rhythm section, the melodic noise-metal group’s third full-length travels some new and unexpected territory, yet remains rooted in heavy sounds. The material reveals a band following impulses that sometimes seem to contradict one another. “I think we were all a little bit doubtful,” new bassist Ian Riley said. “There were a lot of things that I was like, I’m never going to like listening to that. I didn’t think it would work.”
“I’m not a very articulate person, speaking-wise,” said Logan Abbey, the band’s guitarist and main songwriter. “What some people would write lyrically, with emotions, I’m trying to write musically.” During the COVID lockdown, Abbey staved off claustrophobia by exploring genres he’d never gotten into before, like bluegrass and Americana. He then tried to translate some of those styles into Cadaverette’s music before bringing the songs to his bandmates for their input.
“With this album in particular, for me it was just a big step to see what other people contributed and, you know, release a lot of the time,” Abbey said.
“Logan and I do butt heads,” said Wood, who also contributed lyrics. “I think that’s part of the reason our sound is the way it is.”
Cadaverette’s music is all about release, as in catharsis, and freedom. Wood said the experimentation evident on Everything came from her growth as a person. “I’m less interested in doing heavy vocals, and felt the limitations of my voice as years went by. I’ve wanted to move away from that and start exploring.” On the new album, Wood, a powerhouse of a performer on stage, leaps with agility across a wide range of expressions: soft whispers, sweet singing, guttural chants, ferocious screams.
New drummer Dan Capaldi also produced the record. He said growing up as a “middle kid” helped him negotiate the conflicting directions the band was heading in. “Joining this band, I sensed a lot of different influences, and there’s a tension that I think exists in the music, between us as players and music listeners, music enthusiasts, and I don’t necessarily want to tame that,” he told me. “I just want to have the microphone set up in the right places and encourage people to play their best.”
The group’s usual recording space was unavailable during the pandemic, so Capaldi “put in a lot of elbow grease” to create alternatives. The process produced many happy accidents. “One of Logan’s most grounding guitar tones was recorded when we set up in a sub-basement of Mayo Street Arts that was flooded and full of water,” Capaldi said, referring to the performance space and art gallery in Bayside. “We put his guitar rig down there and I ran a snake all the way down three floors. I mic’d up the room, I mic’d up the water. Something about how those blended together was just fucking magical.”
Sometimes the sonic shifts within these songs seem to come out of left field, but the juxtapositions hit like satisfying rhymes, as on “Missive from the Dead,” when Logan’s sudden, hissing vocal comes out of nowhere to provide just the seasoning the song needs. “Fell For a Dream” opens with a spindly bluegrass breakdown barely disguised as metal, thrashes around for awhile, then abruptly drops into a slow, ethereal section unlike anything you’ve heard from them before. The songs also clash with one another — “Crashing” is a ghostly whisper; “Against the Wall” is punk rock.
I asked Abbey to describe Cadaverette in one word, and he chose “fearless.” But perhaps Riley summed it up best when he described the process of making Everything: “We’re four friends who had a really awesome argument.”
A.C. Howard is a writer and zinemaker with roots in DownEast Maine, now living in Portland. They write essays about music, nature and queer life in their newsletter, THE DEAL, at thedealwithcamille.substack.com.