Massachusetts big gun progressive sludge/metalcore outfit Cave In dropped their gigantic album, Heavy Pendulum, via Relapse Records a few days ago, the band’s first album since 2019’s Final Transmission, which many perceived as the band’s swan song.
Cave In added bassist Nate Newton, from Converge, Doomriders, and Old Man Gloom, to the lineup. Newton replaces bassist Caleb Scofield, who tragically passed away in a car accident. Core members Stephen Brodsky (guitar, vocals), Adam McGrath (guitar, vocals), and John-Robert Conners (drums) remain in place.
Encompassing 14-tracks, ranging from colossal hardcore to doom to requiems, Heavy Pendulum is tumescent with the complexity of mysterious symbolism and substantial emotions.
Beginning with “New Reality,” riding a thundering rhythm as muscular, grungy guitars ride overhead, the tune pummels listeners’ ears and shakes their diaphragms. Brodsky’s elemental tenor imbues the lyrics with intense textures.
Entry points include “Blood Spiller” thrumming with sludgy, galvanizing energy, vaguely reminiscent of Megadeth, only thicker and more viscous. The title track, exuding dense flavors of doom, conjures up suggestions of Alice In Chains on PEDs. A searing guitar imbues the harmonics with incandescent filaments.
“Blinded by a Blaze” opens on low-slung guitars, trickling and creeping, as melancholic vocals infuse the lyrics with wistful tones. Throbbing with dark, profound guitars, the tune elevates to coagulated washes of sound, pulsing with portentous hues.
The doom-filled intro to “Nightmare Eyes” surges on deep tendrils of guitars topped by luminous accents. Newton’s bass vibrates as if emanating from the bowels of the underworld, giving the song black dynamics.
“Reckoning” travels on an acoustic guitar, initially, and then takes on gooey flavors of a weighty classical dirge. Thumping, rumbling percussion injects the rhythm with measured width, emphasizing a brooding absorption with ominous deliberations.
The ultimate track, “Wavering Angel,” features an acoustic guitar intro and velvety, falsetto harmonies. When the shadowy rhythm enters, the tune assumes compressed resonance, and finally, ramps up to blistering guitars and Jovian percussion.
Sans an uninteresting track, Heavy Pendulum pumps out convulsive layers of music, rife with a sense of imminence, and is undoubtedly Cave In’s magnum opus.