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Cable - "The Failed Convict" (CD)

Cable - "The Failed Convict" CD cover image

"The Failed Convict" track listing:

1. Jim’s Dream (2:28)
2. Gun Metal Grey (3:14)
3. Be The Wolf (5:38)
4. Failure Coming Down (1:22)
5. Gulf Of Texaco (2:55)
6. Welcome To Dickson (5:46)
7. Outside Abilene (3:19)
8. The Smashing Machine (4:16)
9. Men On Mountains (3:16)
10. Sleep Produces Monsters (3:39)
11. Palm Sunday (4:04)
12. Running Out Of Roads To Ride (4:58)
13. The Failed Convict (4:43)

Reviewed by on October 1, 2009

"The best kept secret in sludge metal, Cable is a massive behemoth ready to break out of its rusted cage."

For over a decade, Cable has been regaled to the dark underbelly of sludge metal. While being a staple of the Northeast club scene, the Connecticut quintet has largely been ignored by the general metal public. They have gone through multiple break-ups and line-up changes, but the band is still churning out gritty sludge metal with a blues twist.

After five years, Cable returns with “The Failed Convict,” an ambitious concept album about an escaped convict named Jim who heads towards the West Coast in hopes of freedom and glory. With seemingly nothing to lose, the band throws no caution to the wind. There are many different elements to their sound that clash together; however, the band reigns it all in to deliver an album that is hard to ignore.

“Jim’s Dream” sets the tone for the rest of the album, a dreamy start that introduces the listener to the main character of Jim. His journey to head out west is full of twists and turns, each of which is expressed in the twelve tracks that follow. All of the songs correlate with each other, flowing organically from one track to the next. The story is easy to follow and has a lot of dimensions to it, as the band keeps it open-ended to allow for different analysis. Pete Farris’s screaming vocals are audible, but having the lyrics on hand enhances the listening experience ten-fold.

Cable sticks with a mid-paced, groove sound for the majority of the album. The band seems comfortable with this pace, taking its time to build to the next masterful soundscape. “Be The Wolf” and “Welcome To Dickson” are grander in scope and a prime example of how to generate slow-burning tension. Cable effectively moves between atmospheric bass-led melodies and guitar-dominated aggression, utilizing the extra time to space out the two.

The band does occasionally veer off into bluesy territory, especially near the latter half of “The Failed Convict.” “Running Out Of Roads To Ride” and the title track sound like the bastard child of Johnny Cash and Isis, a rough and tough attitude with a hint of Southern groove. It’s a refreshing change of pace that shows a clear level of progression. “Outside Abilene” and “Palm Sunday” show a calmer side that employs clean vocals and a more structured vibe that lacks the sharp harsh undertones of the rest of the album.

The one-two punch of “Failure Comin' Down” and “Gulf Of Texaco” is a brief instance of uncompromising hostility that floors the listener on first listen. While there are moments on the rest of “The Failed Convict” that the band cranks up the volume and puts the pedal to the floor, the rest of the album shows a level of restraint. Cable works well in these conditions and few more second half tracks in this style would have given the album an extra punch near the finish line.

A few metal elitists will praise “The Failed Convict” and land on a couple of “Best Of…” lists at the end of the year, but like most Cable albums, this will go largely unnoticed. The band is unfaltering in its pursuit to show why people should get up and take notice of them. The best kept secret in sludge metal, Cable is a massive behemoth ready to break out of its rusted cage. “The Failed Convict” might finally be the key to unlock the cage door and let the beast run wild.

Highs: Fantastic concept, punchy rhythm section, strong balance between melodic and aggressive, blues elements work to the band's favor.

Lows: Missing a speedy number in the second half, "Failure Comin' Down" is too short.

Bottom line: "The Failed Convict" is another stellar showing by Cable that will hopefully not go unnoticed this time around.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)