Cave In - Heavy Pendulum
Relapse Records
Sludge, Post-Metal
14 songs (1:10:30)
Release year: 2022
Relapse Records
Reviewed by Goat

Moving on from the tragic loss of Caleb Schofield in 2018 without moving past it, Cave In here present their first album since that tragic accident. Those who followed the band thus far will immediately be able to tell that this is a fresh start, even with bare traces of Schofield left here and there; a riff here, lyrics there). Cave In are definitely not the first band to attempt a comeback after losing a key member and yet it's hard to think of another group that have bounced back so convincingly. This is immediately heavier, nastier, more pissed-off - the crushing opening of New Reality is like an alt-universe Kyuss turned into something even more blunt and angry, for example, and it rarely lets up after.

The songwriting is as sharp as ever if not moreso, the mix of styles that goes into the likes of Blood Spiller to make it both atmospheric and rocking hard to replicate even in comparable big names like Mastodon, and although Cave In have always leant more towards the mainstream than Troy, Brent, Brann and Bill (that Foo Fighters tour did a lot of underground damage to these boys...!) they do plenty to turn the balance back here. The Mastodon comparison will probably be what dogs the band most going onwards. Sure, there are hooks aplenty across Heavy Pendulum but it's also notable how even the grungy likes of the title track and Blinded by a Blaze rely on doom-laden riffs and post-metal melodies.

And while the heavier likes of Amaranthine rollock along with an enjoyably intense sludginess they're still well-crafted rock songs first and foremost. We're far past the space sludge vs commercial rock anguishes of the past, here; so polished is the band's core sludgy rocking sound that Cave In could pretty much pump out a double album of that and not face much critical backlash. Hey, just like Mastodon did! In all seriousness, Cave In have improved immensely at fusing sludge heaviness and ear-snagging hooks, and the biggest weakness here is arguably not the music itself but the fact that there's a little too much of it, this album having two seven minute pieces (both good but arguably cuttable) and a closing twelve minute epic for a full album length of over seventy minutes.

Maybe Cave In just wanted their comeback album to be a real statement? There's certainly material you could cut here but nothing actually sub-par in songwriting terms. Even the softer interlude pieces like Pendulambient and Days of Nothing serve as warm-up pieces of intensity that herald even better tracks in Careless Offering and Waiting for Love, the latter rivalling Torche for infectious sludge-pop romanticism. And said twelve-minute epic Wavering Angel is wonderful, building up from forlorn acoustic and falsetto beginning into a melodic but grandiose piece that finishes the album well. It's certainly the best album from Cave In for a good few years if not decades; a new beginning that shows there's a lot of life in them yet.

Killing Songs :
New Reality, Blood Spiller, Blinded by a Blaze, Waiting for Love, Wavering Angel
Goat quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Cave In that we have reviewed:
Cave In - Final Transmission reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Cave In - Perfect Pitch Black reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Cave In - Antenna reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Cave In - Jupiter reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Cave In - Until Your Heart Stops reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
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