01. Needles vs. Nails 02. Steel Cage Match 03. Sick Little Ritual 04. Water.Down.Rock 05. Carolina Eyes 06. Lie Detector 07. The Sinking Vessel 08. Paperplanecrash Bonus Tracks: 09. Plastic 10. Chained 11. Flowers & Funerals2008 Translation Loss Records
Everyone knows that a reissue can be a tough sell. Blame for this can be placed upon the many labels offering re-releases, "deluxe" editions, and even remix versions of albums that simply haven't been around long enough to justify such a move. Despite this, reissues can serve an important purpose in the independent music scene. Thankfully, Cable's Variable Speed Drive is the perfect example of a record earning its rebirth. There's a simple rubric for this sort of thing. Is the album sufficiently old Is it difficult to find and deserving of increased exposure Was it influential by being revolutionary for its time Having been released in 1996 on Doghouse Records, a label responsible for early records from Hot Water Music and The Get Up Kids, the now out-of-print Variable Speed Drive definitely nails the first two requirements. And one listen is all it takes to discover how far ahead of their time these guys were in the arena of gritty noisecore. Variable Speed Drive is packed with jarringly discordant guitar lines, piercing screams, and off-kilter rhythms, all pulled together with subtle touches of melody buried in the band's musical catharsis. This record is by no means a well-oiled machine; it rumbles forward on a foundation of pure passion and anger, something that feels missing amongst so many current records hiding behind expensive equipment and slick production jobs. Cable's mid to late 90s songwriting style was far from a calculated approach, instead serving as a channel for emotional release. In other words, Variable Speed Drive is dripping in authenticity. It wasn't heavy, noisy, and pissed off because it needed to fit into a genre. It was all of those things out of pure sincerity. Variable Speed Drive is also packed with a number of elements that have since surfaced as mainstays in different corners of the metal and hardcore world. "Steel Cage Match," "Sinking Vessel," and others offer breakdowns with screeching, dissonant guitar chords, a trick that has been prominent (and beaten into the ground) over the last twelve years of metalcore's evolution. The off-kilter rhythms with abrasive guitar work that Coalesce and Botch would soon refine are also abundant throughout the record. And buried beneath layers of feedback and grit lie a few of the bigger riffs and melodies that Cable themselves would further develop as they transitioned into the realms of stoner rock and sludge metal. On the micro scale, Variable Speed Drive is certainly a great album for those curious as to how this Connecticut band had its start, but many will be surprised to discover how relevant this album is to the current scene, as well as how a lot of its musical ideas helped to usher in a new wave of abrasive heavy music. And that is exactly what allows Variable Speed Drive earn its rightful re-release along with the increased exposure to a new generation of listeners. Bottom Line: Translation Loss did all of us a favor by re-releasing Cable's Variable Speed Drive, a record that still sounds as passionate and authentic as it did when it originally appeared in 1996. It's less of a refined masterpiece and more of how-to lesson in creating sincere, pissed-off music. We can all learn from this.