During the winter of 2018, Cave In reconvened to begin writing music for their first new album in what had been nearly seven years. After a weekend of writing in the band’s rehearsal space in Boston, bassist Caleb Scofield traveled home to New Hampshire. On March 28th, 2018, Scofield was tragically killed in an auto accident, leaving behind his wife and children. Support and condolences came in from around the music world as well as the band’s many fans, the band launching a successful fundraiser to benefit Scofield’s family as well as two benefit shows in Boston and LA. I made the trip with a friend to witness the Boston show, and it was a somber yet uplifting and triumphant performance from Cave In, with Converge’s Nate Newton and Caleb’s younger brother Kyle filling in for him on bass.

In regards to the aforementioned final writing session back in February, Scofield had sent the other members a voice memo with an idea for a new song that featured himself playing acoustic guitar and humming a melody. That voice memo is the haunting opening track to the new record, Final Transmission. Originally intended as a collection of demos, the nine tracks were properly mixed by Andrew Schneider and his work yielded a fantastic end product that sounds nothing like demo quality.

The first released single, “All Illusion”, is a dreamy rocker full of roomy drums and hypnotic guitars from Adam McGrath and Steve Brodsky. The lyrics for the track were pulled from Scofield’s journals after being brought to McGrath’s attention during a visit with Scofield’s family.

Caleb Scofield’s presence doesn’t end there, as his bass tracks are on 6 of the 9 tracks, while playing guitar on two others. “Shake My Blood” sonically maintains the same vibe as the previous track, opting for ambient guitars and washy drum grooves that build instrumentally for two minutes before Brodsky’s vocals come in, undoubtedly dealing with their loss:

No more dreams, no more dreams waiting to die
I need, I need to shake my blood

“Night Crawler” picks up the pace in tempo and intensity, the riffs a bit more dissonant the bass a bit more grinding and present. The whacky lead guitar lines that are a trademark of Cave In’s sound pop up throughout the track, ending on an epic flange filled note. “Lunar Day” is a noisy and melodic fever dream of heavily distorted backdrops, ethereal vocal harmonies tucked just behind the wall of chaos. “Winter Wisdom” sonically fits in with material found on 2005’s Pitch Perfect Black, complete with ambient dueling guitars and acrobatic distorted bass lines.

“Strange Reflection” is a subdued jam that’s rougher around the edges in terms of the demo quality but it fits the track’s overall grungy vibe. Clean verses lead to a distorted and catchy chorus riff, the track trudging along before ending in a sea of washed out cymbals and swirling feedback. Album closer “Led To The Wolves” is mainly written and arranged by Scofield, and undoubtedly the record’s heaviest song. The verses are comprised of a bass heavy groove that chugs in harmony with drummer JR Conner’s tom heavy grooves. When firing on all cylinders, the heavy main riff feels like something from a Zozobra record. The track ends in complete chaos, without a doubt leaving more to be desired.

Only time will tell if this truly is Cave In’s final transmission, and if so they leave a fantastic body of work to be immensely proud of. The surviving members have other amazing contributions to music in their projects like Mutoid Man, Old Man Gloom, Nomad Stones and more.

Final Transmission will be released on June 7th via Hydra Head Records. Half the proceeds from the record sales will go directly to Caleb Scofield’s family. Check out “Shake My Blood” below: