A name that propagates curiosity by implication, Seattle's BONE CAVE BALLET is not your typical female-fronted prog metal unit. In fact, metal is a subtlety, not a given in this act. Nowhere near as ballistic as, say, JUCIFER, if you want to pare that band down to a much more stripped frame of mind, you might get within reach of BONE CAVE BALLET's twisted prog cabaret.
Following their 2009 debut album "The Echo of Entropy", BONE CAVE BALLET's new album "Will of the Waves" is a tricky endeavor that requires patience in order to fully appreciate its minimalist escapism. This comes with the all-presiding caveat to be wary of a few jagged forks in the road of its strange, five-song expedition.
Jacqui Gilroy brings to the table a soothing yet writhing cadence brewed between a concoction of Bjork, Fiona Apple, THE SUNDAYS' Harriet Wheeler and Belle du Berry of PARIS COMBO. Gilroy floats in the higher octaves throughout BONE CAVE BALLET's compositions that spread over a hodgepodge of influences ranging from TOOL to HELIUM, KING CRIMSON, JETHRO TULL, YES and even THE PIXIES.
Kelly Mynes' stick-happy intro to "Breakup Yoga" deceives the listener into feeling a continuous stepped-up tempo is on the horizon, yet the song shrewdly diverts onto a slithering pace, which allows the band's stark measures to operate effectively, if sparsely. The rhythm lines are cautiously plucked from Ezekiel Lords' bass and Jeff Blancato's guitars. While Jacqui Gilroy also plays guitar, it's her restrained siren's calls tip-toeing across the slow plod of the song that calls the biggest attention until "Breakup Yoga" hits a soaring, emotive coda with increased static and gorgeous effervescence.
Similarly, "Great Cycle" pitter-patters for a couple of verses through subversive piano lines that restrict the air spaces around them before the band opens the gates with winding syncopation and ultimately a banged-out bridge sequence and eruptive chorus. According to Jacqui Gilroy, "Great Cycle" refers to a Mayan prophecy of great upheaval, reflected by the current global anarchy in the Middle East and other sectors of the world. Thus you have BONE CAVE BALLET's audile conveyance of dormancy blowing to smithereens.
The flute sequence and the funky bass lines opening "Shape to Stay" serves up a mid-tempo dance groove upon which Jacqui Gilroy seduces her listeners with suggestive serenity, including a hypnotizing whoo-ooh section as the song's volume begins to pick up with agitation. Abruptly, the song grows mucky with distorted chaos that flings mud upon the returning flute and gentle JETHRO TULL-esque prog movements. Finally, "Shape to Stay" crawls away from its clod-bombed interlude with a morose exeunt.
"Newton's 3rd" begins with an anti-samba tempo which feels more sneezed incrementally than played straight. What's so cool about Jacqui Gilroy is her ability to play foil to the nuttiness circumventing around her. Even as contributor to the instrumental bric-a-brac erecting BONE CAVE BALLET's foundations, her vocals remain undeterred, flowery and a mite unhinged. Her voice is the ultimate empathy in the midst of such chaos. She's powerful throughout "Newton's 3rd", which grows heavy in spots, aloof and spiraling in others. The metallic stamps arriving at the rear of the song ends on such an abrupt note it leaves a Pavlovian effect for more, which is smartly served by the chunkier and louder "Repression's Estate".
Here is where BONE CAVE BALLET shows hints of their TOOL tendencies, even if holding everything back for much of the slow ride before letting it all burn and fly out of their sound space like an iron talon phoenix. Soon, "Repression's Estate" erupts with an uninhibited cram between TOOL and THE PIXES as the guitars reach their fullest zenith on this album before settling into streaming placidity on the outro.
By true definition of the phrase, BONE CAVE BALLET is head music. They don't opt for sensory overload. Instead, the band emphasizes austereness over complexity. Jacqui Gilroy is an alluring weapon who baits listeners to her band's lunatic lullabies on the premise of tranquility. More often than not, however, BONE CAVE BALLET gives more than their audience has bargained for.