Few artists have had quite the career arc as Boston legends Cave In. From their origins as late 90s metalcore heroes, they started exploring HUM-style space rock and had a mainstream breakout in Antenna, which found them touring with Foo Fighters. But RCA’s faith in them waned, and they returned to metal label Hydra Head, where they made their way back to metalcore in the space of a couple albums.
Final Transmissions, comprised of polished demos after the passing of bassist Caleb Scofield, showed a brilliant hybrid of the two poles of their sound, resulting in what may have been their best release.
But judging by “Blinded By a Blaze,” the second single from their upcoming release Heavy Pendulum, and it looks like Cave In has plenty more of this alchemy up their sleeves.
In contrast to the rampaging hardcore energy of the first single “New Reality,” this track slows down the tempo for an eerie, epic track that finds the group flexing their atmospheric muscle. A morose guitar arpeggio opens the song through odd chord progressions, aided by a swelled bass guitar. Stephen Brodsky sings a mournful melody over it with his unmistakable voice. The rest of the band enters with pedal-effected guitar, gritty bass, and a commanding yet controlled drum groove.
But it doesn’t take long for the song to get some muscle. A heavier chorus introduces heavier distortion and raspier vocals from Brodsky, leading to a palm-muted one-chord passage that feels like HUM doing djent. When the song returns to the verse, it’s out for blood, taking on the sort of sludgy heaviness of bands like Cult of Luna—used to great extent on Cave In’s own Perfect Pitch Black album.
After another chorus, the band introduces a wah’d guitar solo, which—don’t quote me on this—seems like one of the few things Cave In hasn’t done in their diverse career. But given Brodsky-side-project Mutoid Man’s deep love of hair metal, it feels inevitable that his main band might one day channel Jimi Page.
It closes with a return to the chuggy mid-section, the Radiohead-y lead guitar soaring even more triumphantly before devolving into self-oscillating delay noise.
Testament to Cave In’s expert songwriting, it nearly breaks eight minutes without sounding a second over five. I’m a little suspicious that they might have worked in some sort of mind control into the track to hypnotize me so they can perform some nefarious deed unnoticed.
But if this is any indication of what Heavy Pendulum is going to be like, I’ll let them get away with whatever they want.
Heavy Pendulum is out May 20th on Reprise Records.