These Massachusetts rockers had intended their previous full-length album, 2019’s Final Transmission, as just that – a last hurrah, completing material begun with late bassist and vocalist Caleb Scofield who was killed in a car crash in 2018. But, says singer and guitarist Stephen Brodsky, the healing process of its production led to this seventh album together.
Heavy Pendulum is certainly the sound of a renewed band and is, like everything they’ve recorded since 2003’s Antenna (their ill-fated attempt at commercial crossover), an unapologetically fierce beast. With amps and FX pedals dialled up to 11 and riffs so gargantuan they blot out the sun, the likes of New Reality and Blood Spiller deliver pure metal machine music, and showcase the impressive, throat-shredding howl of new bassist and second vocalist Nate Newton (of Massachusetts hardcore punk legends Converge, whose guitarist Kurt Ballou produced the album).
But mere brute force has never been Cave In’s thing, and Heavy Pendulum soon tempers its pendulous heaviosity with the grace and complexity that have long been their trademark, the results evoking the grunge era’s darkly psychedelic peaks. Floating Skulls (juggling math-metal violence and heavy rock heroics) and the slow, stately roll of the title track could be the work of Soundgarden, while the vast riffs and macabre harmonies of Blinded By a Blaze suggest Alice In Chains at their most cobwebby and gothic. Meanwhile, the majestic build of Nightmare Eyes – foregrounding Brodsky’s keening croon, Newton’s bare-knuckled roar and many decibels of crackling cosmic guitar wizardry – is the best the group have sounded since 2000’s breakthrough Jupiter.