Cave In – ‘Heavy Pendulum’

By Dave Stewart

In 2019, Cave In released their final studio album ‘Final Transmission’ following the tragic death of their long-time bassist Caleb Scofield. After a glittering career that saw them show the world their signature blend of powerful hardcore mixed with atmospheric rock, the loss of Scofield was too much for the band to bear, and that final record was full of his demos that the band turned into songs. They played some benefit shows to raise money for Scofield’s family, enlisting the help of Converge’s Nate Newton to play bass in Caleb’s place. We didn’t know this at the time, and maybe neither did they, but those shows gave birth to a new era of Cave In.

Providing the band with an opportunity to both reflect and heal, those shows ultimately helped the band get to a point where they realised they weren’t ready to close the book just yet. Discussions were had, ideas were thrown around, decisions were made, and the end result is ‘Heavy Pendulum’, a brand new studio album that both celebrates Scofield and sees the band storming down a new path. Make sure you buckle yourselves in, folks – this is one hell of a ride.

Opening number and first single ‘New Reality’ is, for lack of a better description, a belter. Raw and razor-sharp guitars, huge driving drums and frontman Stephen Brodsky’s velvety yet ominous vocals all smash together to create a ravenous beast, and it is hungry. A song about adjusting to being in a band without Caleb is a really powerful way to kick off the record, making his presence known at the very beginning and building on that with everything that follows.

There are plenty of weighty tracks on show here, all of which masterfully dip in and out of various sub-genres. They touch on thrash, grunge, doom, post-metal and so much more, and the variety doesn’t veer away from the band’s identity in the slightest. There’s the furious ‘Careless Offering’, the brooding ‘Blood Spiller’, the metallic giant ‘Amaranthine’ and the towering ‘Searchers Of Hell’ to name a few, but much like every Cave In record there is far more on show here than just their aggressive side.

Where the majority of the tracks thrash and convulse, a lot of the record provides moments of calm that you can explore and really get lost in. There are the vast plains of the spacey interludes ‘Pendulambient’ and ‘Days Of Nothing’, a step into the experimental on the proggy ‘Waiting For Love’, the soul-stirring rock ballad ‘Reckoning’, some big stoner-rock vibes on the skulking title track… But there’s one track in particular the stands out from all the rest. That track is the incredible album closer ‘Wavering Angel’, the band’s longest song to date and arguably their most epic. Twisting through fragile acoustics and dramatic distorted turns, it ends the record on a sombre, powerful note, reminding us of how important and necessary Cave In are.

Imagine a world where the band really did call it a day and we didn’t get to hear this record. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Final Transmission’ was a beautiful album and would’ve been a fine way to bow out, but this album is remarkable. From the bludgeoning and relentless heavy numbers to the more reflective and delicate tracks, this both doffs its cap at everything they’ve done up to now and kicks open a new door into their future. If you aren’t already a fan of Cave In, this will change that. ‘Heavy Pendulum’ is yet another bar-raiser of an album to add to their now blindingly bright discography, and you won’t be able to pull your gaze away from its aura for a very long time.

DAVE STEWART

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