ALBUM REVIEW: Cave In – Final Transmission

Release Date: June 7th 2019
Label: Hydra Head Records
Website: None available


Since helping to lay down the metalcore blueprint at the end of the 90s, Cave In have largely been operating on their own terms, with albums like ‘Jupiter’, ‘Antenna’ and ‘White Silence’ being vastly different from one another, yet being distinctly Cave In all the same.

Since their ill-fated stint on RCA Records, there’s been a sense that the band haven’t received the credit they deserve, yet the band have recently been dealt a far harsher hand.

We often wonder what is the correct way to grieve, and many people will say that there is no correct way. The band’s sixth full-length album, the ominously-titled ‘Final Transmission’, arrives with tragic circumstances surrounding it, with bassist Caleb Scofield‘s tragic death last year. As a tribute, the record is comprised of the final songs and demos that Scofield worked on with Cave In.

The title-track and opener would in other circumstances be a simple demo, a voice note of Caleb Scofield strumming an acoustic guitar and singing a simple melody to himself, but with his passing since, there’s an air of poignancy and emotive resonance with this recording.

We then move into ‘All Illusion’, a song that’s driven by shimmering guitars, and a grand, massive-sounding ending section. ‘Shake My Blood’ then offers a similar approach, and a clear moment of catharsis lyrically. Never content with staying in their lanes, the haunting shoegaze of ‘Lunar Day’ helps to divide the album up nicely, with Stephen Brodsky‘s falsetto and the fuzzed-up guitar proving to be an enticing juxtaposition.

The hulky, post-metal riffing in ‘Lanterna’ is another reminder of what Cave In bring to the table, helped by Brodsky‘s distinctive croon. There’s also plenty of nods to past albums such as ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Perfect Pitch Black’ that appear, with ‘Winter Window’ and ‘Strange Reflection’ recalling both the spacey, immersive guitar work of the former, and the more subtle approach of the latter.

The intense finale ‘Led To The Wolves’ has the stamp of Caleb Scofield all over it – a lo-fi quality that sounds like it could be a rehearsal recording. Definitely being the album’s heaviest track, Scofield‘s screams at the end of the track offer another moment of poignancy.

Possibly due to the way it was put together, chances are this may not quite be regarded among the greatest Cave In albums. But, evidently, some things are far more important, and Cave In have put together a body of work that honours Caleb Scofield‘s memory in the best way possible. If this album really is their final transmission, they’ll have gone out very strongly indeed.