The spring of 2000 was a fertile time for Boston-based Cave In, as they prepared to record Jupiter, the album that would bring them wide critical acclaim, as well as serve as the band’s creative apex. Dark, moody, complex, atmospheric—it was a masterful album that found the band transforming from its hardcore roots and heading straight into a prog-rock bliss. The album was borne out of jam sessions and deep, heavy instrumental groove-searching and experimenting. It was soon realized that these recordings, unlike many other bands’ practice sessions, could stand on their own. Thus was born The Sacrifice Poles, and while the band would focus their energies on Jupiter, those in-the-know types could get a sneak peek into Jupiter’s creation.
It would be easy to make comparisons between the music found here and Jupiter. Don’t. They were right to release these anonymously back then, as the songs don’t have much in common either with the harder sounds that preceded it, or the more delicate, atmospheric landscapes of Jupiter. One can’t help but think that they knew Jupiter was something special and didn’t want to steal any of its thunder with a distracting release.
What one hears is a band exploring its options. There’s the heavy, plodding metal of “God Is On The Telephone” and “Chow Foon The Moon,” the epic space rock of “Low Rumble Waltz” and “Feline Macabre,” the catchy acoustic indie-rock of “Neon Glow,” and even a Durutti Column-esque sketch, “Head Extensions.” Nothing here sounds inferior or tossed-off, leading one to conclude that their creative process was both seriously considered and curiously explored.
These recordings have been reissued under the name Cave In, and it’s good to see it credited that way, because it gives The Sacrifice Poles the correct context it deserves, and as fifteen years have passed since Jupiter, it is an interesting insight into the creative process of one of the last decade’s best albums.