State Theatre presents

Cave In

with Mouth Washington

Sun, April 9, 2023

Portland House of Music and Events

Doors: 7:00pm - Show: 8:00pm - 21+

$25 advance
$30 day of show

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Cave In

To many observers, it looked like Cave In’s 2019 album, Final Transmission, was exactly what its title indicated. After all, the band’s bassist and dear friend Caleb Scofield had passed during the record’s early stages. They finished it with the help of another dear friend—Nate Newton of Converge/Old Man Gloom/Doomriders—but it still felt like the end of an era.

“At that time, we were so consumed by doing what we felt we needed to do to help the Scofield family get on their feet, and raising money for them was a huge concern,” Cave In vocalist/guitarist Steve Brodsky explains. “We did some benefit shows and allocated half of the proceeds from Final Transmission to his family. So it’s almost like we had to keep doing the band to use it as a vehicle to help the Scofields. But it was healing, and through that process we put the wheels back on Cave In.”

Which brings us to the brand-new Cave In album, Heavy Pendulum. Featuring Nate Newton on bass and backing vocals alongside original members Brodsky, Adam McGrath (guitar/vocals) and JR Conners (drums), it’s Cave In’s first proper studio recording since 2009’s Planets Of Old. “When we began working on the songs that became Final Transmission, the goal was to finish that stuff in a studio,” Brodsky explains. “Caleb was very specific about wanting to do that. In a way, this is doing his vision justice—finally getting into a studio to make another Cave In record.”

Recorded with Kurt Ballou at God City in January and August of 2021, Heavy Pendulum also marks the first time Cave In has worked with the famed producer and Converge guitarist since the band’s beloved 1998 debut, Until Your Heart Stops. “It’s also Cave In’s first recording at the current God City location,” Brodsky points out. “We recorded Until Your Heart Stops at the original God City in Allston, MA. What’s crazy is that we’ve all recorded at the Salem location with our other bands many times, but never all together.”

While Final Transmission was largely written before Newton joined the band, Heavy Pendulum bears his undeniable mark and influence. “Nate is very engaged in creative decisions, and there’s a grace about him that makes it seem like he’s been in the band since day one,” Brodsky observes. “But he also has enough distance to bring something new to the mix. Me, Adam and JR have been in the eye of the storm with this thing since 1995. It’s hard to have the best vision when you’ve weathered a band for that long. But Nate’s someone we can trust. He’s been doing this longer than we have.”

Heavy Pendulum is a thrilling new chapter for Cave In, but there are references to the past throughout. Even the title is a nod to the difficult period the band had to get through to arrive at this point. “It acknowledges the heaviness of time passing, especially when you find yourself having to navigate through circumstances that drag you down,” Brodsky says. “Plus, JR really liked the title. We were considering a couple of other things, but when the guy who keeps time in your band says we should call the record Heavy Pendulum, how can you argue with that? He’s one of the heaviest pendulums in the game.”

Leadoff track “New Reality” kicks things off with jagged metallic riffage and soaring interstellar leads, like an impossible combination of Until Your Heart Stops and Cave In’s 2000 space-age classic Jupiter. “It’s the new reality of Cave In without Caleb and with Nate, the new reality of life during Covid, and the creative process of this new lineup crystallizing during that time,” Brodsky explains. “There are very strong references to Caleb in the song lyrically, and there’s actually a riff in the verse that he wrote back in the White Silence days. It felt right to lead off with a new song that has our old friend in mind, to keep his memory at the forefront.”

Scofield’s presence is also front and center on the dizzying “Amaranthine,” which feature lyrics written by the departed bassist. “At some point, Caleb’s wife Jen gave Nate a lyric book that Caleb had kept, kind of like a journal he used specifically for writing music,” Brodsky says. “We found a set of lyrics that, to our knowledge, hadn’t been used for anything else. So that became the song ‘Amaranthine,’ which is also Caleb’s title.”

Meanwhile, “Blood Spiller” offers a musical nod to one of Newton’s first bands. “In the mid to late ’90s, our first impressions of Nate and his music were through the band Channel that he played in,” Brodsky says. “They put out a couple of singles, and ‘Blood Spiller’ at some point became something like Channel might write. Essentially, we were trying to channel Channel.”

Lyrically, the song does something that Cave In has never done before. “Over the last four or five years, I don’t know how anyone can be deaf or dumb to what’s happening in the world politically,” Brodsky says. “There’s a whole new kind of vibe to how politics are run, especially in America. ‘Blood Spiller’ definitely has some reactionary feelings to what’s happening.”

Elsewhere, McGrath sings lead on “Reckoning,” which he hasn’t done on a Cave In song since “Iron Decibels” from 2011’s White Silence. “Adam had a real heavy hand in putting that song together musically and lyrically,” Brodsky says. “That one was his vision, and it came out great.”

Last but not least, there’s the momentous 12-minute closer, “Wavering Angel.” “It might be the longest Cave In song,” Brodsky ventures. “It went through many versions, though. I even tried it with Mutoid Man, but then I realized that it truly was a two-guitar song. But with each version, it kept getting longer.”

In terms of quality control, the new Cave In isn’t terribly different from the old Cave In. “Caleb was the oldest member of the band, so he was like an older brother to us,” Brodsky says. “We always looked to him for his thoughts and opinions—as well as for decisions outside of making music. Nate has some of that as well, but the age difference is even more.”

Brodsky uses an example from MTV’s heyday to illustrate his point. “When we’re in the creative process, we all tend to revert back to a time when we first got excited about making music,” he offers. “For me, it was back in 1993, when I’d get home from school and put on MTV—and there’s the Pearl Jam video for ‘Even Flow’ with Eddie Vedder jumping into the crowd. I wanna jump through the TV and be in Seattle among the flannel-wearing, Doc Marten-kicking grunge rockers. But if Nate saw that same video in 1993, he’d probably just be pointing and laughing.

Then he’d turn it off and put on the Bad Brains. That difference of perspective is an element of quality control.”

“Is Heavy Pendulum a grunge record?” he says with a laugh. “No. But it probably could’ve been if me, JR and Adam were left to our own devices.”

Mouth Washington

Portland Maine Post-Punk