If you’re a fan of any music that Caleb Scofield created or played, bring the tissues for this one. Cave In‘s aptly-titled Final Submission (Hydra Head) is a collection of recordings made with the band’s late bassist before his tragic death last year and contains much input from the man himself. It’s a slightly different album than fans might expect, but in many ways, it’s more meaningful for it.
Who’s to say whether the album’s delicate yet edgy, acoustic title track should have ended rather than begun proceedings, but Scofield’s “Doon doon…” vocal is as poignant and effective as the chords surrounding it. The beauty of the ensuing ‘All Illusion’, very ’60s meets balladic Grunge’, still portrays the expected weight but adds a poignancy and emotion of the kind often associated with UK Psych Britpoppers Cast, with lead histrionics suiting the situation perfectly. Similarly ‘Shake My Blood’ has a jangly, Pixies feel as if trying to find the alchemy of mourning with the joy of celebrating life. The clash of the bass against the harmonies, speaking of saying goodbye and waiting to die, is so emotive yet lightly delivered, and my God does it convey the grief.
The dark, twisted rhythms of ‘Night Crawler’ come closer to displaying the band’s natural angst, but honeyed strains still show pain rather than ferocious anger. The echoing, oscillating wails of ‘Lunar Day’ further affirm this dichotomy of expression, a rhythmless clash of strings that seems to pit Sabbath tracks ‘Planet Caravan’ and ‘NIB’ against each other, yet blends them in symbiotic harmony. The Eastern strains of ‘Winter Window’ meanwhile, bring Europe-flavoured dual lead attacks against a hostile riff, the whole twisting through lyrics of physicality turning to ash which again tears at the heartstrings, and makes Cave In’s more melodic moments completely acceptable.
The final three of nine tracks, all of which fall below the five-minute mark, reflect the darkness. ‘Lanterna’ is a Prog-tinged, sinister paean to the night, while ‘Strange Reflections’ sees clanging post-Metal resound against moving leadwork and haunting synths, with a gentle vocal protesting against being taken to the realm of the dead. That clean vocal is so clean, so full of despair and clearly counters the rhythmic, urgent bluster of closer ‘Led To The Wolves’: its febrile hum and crashing drums again more like the familiar chaotic display. If this is Cave In’s closing chapter then it’s fitting that it’s so unexpectedly tuneful, proving that the band often displays more feeling with melody than in their angry guise. Caleb would be proud of the surprise.
8 / 10