The title and story behind Cave In’s 2019 LP, Final drive, led many to believe that the eclectic rock band’s two-and-a-half-decade run was over. Following the tragic passing of bassist and vocalist Caleb Scofield in 2018, the band fleshed out the last demos they had made with him and turned them into a full-length record. It seemed like a fitting conclusion to the band’s arc as well as a heartfelt goodbye to the man who gave them so much of his heart and soul. But much to the delight of Caveheads like me, the band decided to continue. Their new album, heavy pendulum (Relapse), isn’t just another collection of songs in their catalog; it’s another step in the evolution of a band whose changing sound is one of their greatest assets and most defining characteristics.
Cave In emerged from Boston’s hardcore scene in the mid-90s and their 1998 debut album, Until your heart stops, essentially reimagined metalcore with relentless, gnarly, and incredibly complex dual-guitar shredding, topped with frontman Stephen Brodsky’s even more shredded vocals. Discovering what new musical movements would contain a Cave In record quickly became one of the most exciting things to follow the band: in 2000, they released their progressive rock masterpiece Jupiter, where Brodsky traded his scream for a velvety falsetto. They played with indie rock adjacent to shoegaze on the 2003s Antennathen mixed sludge metal with space rock on the 2005s Perfect Pitch Black and 2011 white silence. Since Scofield’s death, Converge bassist Nate Newton has stepped in, and his grimy, groovy low end is a perfect fit. heavy pendulum is the simplest, most focused version of Cave In to date, with straight heavy metal riffs laying the groundwork for Brodsky’s signature vocal hooks (and the occasional compromise with Newton’s menacing growl). Less present are Cave In’s beloved space guitars, but the record is fun, catchy and heavy as hell – once again the band show us a new side to their sound rather than something we expected. Yet when the closer 12-minute album “Wavering Angel” kicks off with “Stairway to Heaven”-style flutes and guitar solos worthy of Steve Hackett of Genesis, you’re immediately reminded that the opulent, prog metal side of Cave In what you loved all along went nowhere.
Cave In heavy pendulum is available through a Bandcamp.