As Bucketlist Music Reviews‘ resident hippie, it is no secret that amongst my fellow Bucketheads I’m the least versed in all things heavy. This is not to say that I don’t have an appreciation for thrash or doom metal, it’s just that I can only take the extremity and rigidness of the genre in small doses. Caustic Casanova and their Pantheon series have proven to be the exception. I could listen to their songs over and over for hours on end and not feel musically exhausted. I think the main reason is that even though they are classified as a heavy band, they are wildly restless and experimental, which is something a hungry music aficionado like me can thoroughly enjoy.
Pantheon: Vol. 3 is easily the most “out there” of the bunch. It follows the same format as Vol.1 and Vol.2 in that one side of the record is an original song and one is a stylistic revamp of one of their favourite songs except it’s longer, better, and takes more chances. On the first side, there are three original songs that boast an exhausting stylistic range from funk to the avant-garde, and on the other side is an epic, nine-minute cover of Weedeater’s magnum opus “God Luck and Good Speed.”
What immediately stands out about Vol.3 is how it is mostly instrumental. Opening track “Clown Butter” is a glorious funk and punk hybrid jam that would surely make Minutemen proud. The psychedelic speed-metal workout “Stampede” is utterly thrilling with its flawless tempo changes and sexy guitar licks courtesy of Andrew Yonki. Either song could easily soundtrack an intense car chase in a summer action flick. That said, when bassist Francis Beringer and drummer Stephanie Zaenker finally chime in halfway through “Everyone’s Goddamn Business,” it is a thing of anthemic beauty that recalls the melodic interplay of Kim Deal and Frank Black. Beringer’s vocal performance on “God Luck and Good Speed” should also be highly commended in that he trades Dave Collins’s low growl for a devastating tenor wail eerily reminiscent of Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale.
Now at this point, you’re probably thinking, “Shawn, none of this sounds all that heavy”! Feast your ears on “God Luck and Good Speed.” Not only will it be enough to meet your doom and gloom fix, but Caustic Casanova’s quirky sensibility remains intact. This is incredibly impressive considering how they could have opted to copy the original song note for note. Instead, the band doubles the length and sludge factor, adds clean vocals, and has their producer play a banjo and a glockenspiel! You may consider this sacrilegious, but after hearing both versions I can confidently say that this one will appease both fans of the band and Weedeater. It is quirky AND heavy, and easily my favourite track here!
Even though Pantheon: Vol.3 boasts the strongest songs, I highly recommend that you listen to The Pantheon Collection in its entirety. There is no better way to fully understand why this band is worth so much of your time. Okay, I might be fanboying super hard, but make no mistake, Caustic Casanova are the real deal. The way they play with SO many genres in just a matter of minutes without falling apart is an adrenaline rush. Metal purists might scoff at them, and more mainstream music fans might block their ears, but that’s what makes them so special. They are a band who refuse to be pigeonholed. If you’re on their wavelength then it probably means so do you.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Kate Erickson