Released some twenty-five years into a career that saw them burst out of the east-coast hardcore scene in the mid nineties, Heavy Pendulum (Relapse Records) is Cave In’s seventh album, and is a landmark release for the band who sadly lost their bass player Caleb Schofield to a car accident in 2018. Schofield also provided many of Cave In’s heavier vocals, and his role in the band is assumed by close friend Nate Newton (Converge, Deathriders), and who also has a mean voice himself.
Clearly there is a fluidity of artists that play together in connected bands that Cave In are well and truly a part of (frontman Stephen Brodsky also worked with Converge and Chelsea Wolfe on last year’s superb Bloodmoon: I release), and who form an extremely tight group of talented musicians and friends, and the Converge connection also looms large further still, with the album having been produced by their extraordinary guitarist Kurt Ballou, and recorded in his notorious GodCity Studio. So, it will come as no surprise just how good this record sounds! The production is absolutely spot on as highlighted by the first two tracks ‘New Reality’ and ‘Blood Spiller’, both singles pre released before the album, and both featuring crunching guitars and a rolling bass heavy groove, which are consistent traits throughout the record.
Nate Newton is that good, he sounds like he’s always been in the band, and his heavy vocal style trades off perfectly with Brodsky’s cleaner singing. Throughout there is also some fine guitar work from Adam McGrath, with ‘Careless Offering’ in particular featuring a hypnotic lead hook in the chorus, providing the track with a real peak Soundgarden-type feel.
In fact, throughout the album you hear further shades of Soundgarden, along with Alice In Chains, mixed with a spaced out Monster Magnet sound, as the band channel an alternative nineties vibe, and it’s also easy to pick up on a distinct seventies rock influence, particularly that of Led Zeppelin. There are also lashings of pure unadulterated old school metal in places too, and catchy chorus hooks that would make Dave Grohl proud had he written them himself for Foo Fighters, a band Cave In supported in the early 2000’s.
The quality really stands out, though, when they drop the pace on songs like the title track, which mixes a slower Southern rock drawl with a beautifully haunting bridge section, and on ‘Blinded By A Blaze’ and ‘Wavering Angel’, the two longest tracks on the album which both beautifully weave their way through the listeners emotions.
Cave In is a band who have always constantly evolved their sound, with the style often changing from album to album and it would appear that they are looking to make a statement with this release, incorporating a little bit of everything that has come before, but with a maturity and experience in songwriting that sees them creating some of their finest ever work. This is a classy and eclectic collection of songs that shows a band that, against the odds, still have a hell of a lot of life left in them.
8 / 10