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City of Caterpillar reunited without having to rebuild its sound

The Virginia screamo heroes return with their first album in 20 years

City of Caterpillar is, from left, Brandon Evans, Kevin Longendyke, Ryan Parrish and Jeff Kane. (Reid Haithcock)

Has it really been 20 years between City of Caterpillar albums? Doesn’t feel like it. At least not to them. Maybe that’s because the resurgent Virginia quartet — whose sound falls somewhere between hardcore and post-rock, and whose reputation has grown into something between “cult” and “legendary” — have always been able to make time fly. Their most meticulous songs fold it like origami. Their most chaotic moments crumple it into a ball.

As for the band members themselves, the years have moved as fast as the music. From 2003 to 2016, “when the band didn’t exist, nobody put music aside to be an accountant,” says City of Caterpillar guitarist Jeff Kane. “All of us have been really heavily involved with music, so it doesn’t feel like we’re coming back to something. … It doesn’t feel like a big re-beginning.”

Ask Kane to flash back to City of Caterpillar’s actual beginnings back in 2000, though, and he remembers songwriting cram sessions with his bandmates — guitarist-vocalist Brandon Evans, bassist-vocalist Kevin Longendyke, drummer Ryan Parrish — writing detonative music under the influence of Born Against and Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the cramped bedroom of a Richmond rowhouse. Those songs eventually formed the band’s stormy self-titled 2002 debut, an album that helped popularize the sound of “screamo” after the band fell apart in 2003.

Then 13 years zipped past, and after reconvening in 2016 to play a friend’s birthday party, the foursome decided to keep at it. Their sophomore album, “Mystic Sisters,” is set to land later this month, essentially picking up their urgency where they left it, setting cloudy melodies to ornate rhythms, prioritizing mood over message. If the band has any kind of long-term mission, Kane says it’s “to create a feeling.”

One of those feelings might be a sense of inevitability, a sort of shared commitment to a particular style of hardcore that can only sound this very specific way. Kane describes the band as a precious sliver of common ground “where our musical interests overlap.”

“Ryan is into metal. Kevin is into ’60s garage stuff. Brandon is really into electronic music and techno. I like ’90s indie and punk — I’m stuck in 1996. But our overlapping musical interests are so specific, even if we called it something else, it’s going to end up sounding so much like City of Caterpillar, there’s no point in calling it something it’s not.”

Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. (doors open) at Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $20.