When I first moved up to the New England region, every now and then I’d hear some Cave In playing on one of the local stations newscasts to put them into and out of commercial breaks, and I thought this was the coolest thing ever.
Then a year ago I heard Cave In on the local news for the wrong reason, that Caleb Scofield, the bands bassist/co vocalist/song writer had died in a tragic vehicle accident in New Hampshire. Prior to the accident, I was a little excited as it looked like the band had jammed together according to posts on their social media. So I wasn’t sure if any of those jams were to lead to anything more, and with Caleb gone, would we ever hear anything new? Final Transmission documents those and various other jams and demos; some dating back to 2010 and various others written during other sessions between 2017-2018.
The album opens with a rather somber tone on the title track “Final Transmission” which may very well be one of the last recordings Caleb ever made, demoing out this tune by himself. It sets the tone for the record, which much like the band’s previous effort ‘White Silence’ was mostly spearheaded by Caleb writing wise. While still retaining a lot of the last records rawness, there are portions that recall past efforts like ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Tides of Tomorrow’ in terms of not only style but the overall vibe of the record. Bear in mind while side projects like Mutoid Man, Zozobra, Old Man Gloom, and Nomad Stones may offer different facets to the bands writing styles. None of that really seam to culminate here, and if you’re listening to Cave In for the first time because of any of those bands, this might not be the best place to start.
But before we dive to deep into the album, let’s talk about the production. Please note this album was never intended to be released as it was. The album is pieced together of 4 track demos from jam sessions and also pieces finished after Caleb’s passing. The 4 track demo recording nature shouldn’t be new to Cave In fans, as they have released songs and even a whole album as The Sacrifice Poles which sounded better than what you’d think you were getting due to the nature of recording. Much of this was how White Silence was recorded however the intention here of what you’re hearing was meant to be re-recorded in a far more professional manner, although Cave In’s love of low-fi recordings you couldn’t really tell much of a difference. Andrew Schneider and James Plotkin handled the mixing and mastering here and brought out some huge sounds here.
After the opener “An Illusion” continues on in the somber tone with a Tides of Tomorrow era feel. One of the best songs on the album “Shake My Blood” includes a long jammed intro reminiscent of Jupiter featuring vocals that were recorded after Caleb had passed with lyrics coming off as a eulogy for their fallen friend. The album starts to get a bit more uplifting with more energetic driving tracks like “Nightcrawler” and “Led to the Wolves” while being a bit more reflective with mid tempo rockers in “Winter Window,” “Lanterna,” and “Strange Reflection.”
Overall it’s not clear if Final Transmission is Cave In or just Caleb’s final statement. The rather ominous somber tone of the record coupled with the “It is what it is” kind of leaves you wanting to know what else was in store for the band had this tragic event not cut a chief part of the band’s existence away.
Notable Tracks: Shake My Blood, Strange Reflection, An Illusion