A caltrop was a barb used in battle before landmines to slow down an opposition riding in on horses, elephants, etc. Caltrop, the North Carolina psych-rock band, will surprise and stick you in the same way. Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes is a blistering, metal-influenced riff fest. From the lower-than-low rumbling of moody opener “Birdsong” to the quick-fire fills of “Blessed”, the band delivers towering rock songs mixing a proggy sense of expansive composition with a sneaky eye for pop sensibility.
As punishing as the riffs can be, these songs never devolve into thrashed-out wanking. The 13-minute “Perihelion” that sits in the middle of the record anchors it perfectly. It’s the best example of the southern rock influence that hides on the outskirts of these songs, the riffs full of dust and sway and bluesy shadow. The song also shifts from big hooks to gaps of negative space to slow movements spreading out like a sweat stain across the back. This record is a confident and far-reaching set of tunes, one that is capable of bludgeoning us with its sheer distorted power but is rarely content to do only that. The closer “Zelma” is more classical guitar than psych-power, showing the beautiful layers that undergird the immediate power of these songs. Of course, behind it is the grind of a guitar, wailing away, poking holes in the veneer. With Caltrop, the road may be rough and ragged, but they still bound through it with an undeniable and unique energy.