Cave In’s latest album <em>Final Transmission</em> is an ode to the band’s former bassist Caleb Scofield, who passed away last year in an car accident in New Hampshire. Anyone who knew Caleb knew that he was born to create. He was a musician and played in bands such as Old Man Gloom and Zozobra. He was also an accomplished carpenter, but more than anything else, Caleb was a father. He is survived by his wife Jen, and their two children Sydney and Desmond. Final Transmission is for them, as much as it is for Caleb.
Cave In comprises of Stephen Brodsky, Adam McGrath, John-Robert Conners, and Caleb Scofield. Final Transmission is the band’s sixth studio album, a follow up 8 years in the making to their highest-charting and most critically acclaimed album White Noise. The long wait was due to the fact that Cave In’s band members chose to pursue their own respective side projects and were on an indefinite and unofficial hiatus, only playing a couple of shows every now and then.
The band pulled it together after Caleb’s passing and took a bunch of demos and rough sessions and turned it into what is now known as Final Transmission. Now, given the circumstances surrounding the making of the album, one would be forgiven for having one or both of these assumptions: first, that the album would sound raw and unfinished because it was thrown together with mostly raw studio cuts that were never meant to be turned into one cohesive album; and second, that the time apart and the band’s various side projects would spill over and dilute Cave In — turning it into a mishmash of varying, and possibly conflicting, sounds.
Let’s start with the second assumption, as the first one is a little more complicated. There is no doubt that Final Transmission is a Cave In album. Tracks like “Shake My Blood” harken back to the band’s space rock sound first heard on their album Jupiter. The band also goes back to their roots of gritty thumping riffs on songs like “Lanterna.”
Despite all the factors that could have altered the sound that made Cave In the band that it is, they have stayed true to themselves and it shows quite clearly on Final Transmission. This album is a testament to a band that is self-assured and is perpetually at the height of their powers.
Now, while the album is made entirely of rough cuts that were never intended to be one album, it’s safe to say that the band has turned what could have been a great weakness into the album’s greatest strengths. Through the patchwork and splicing together of tracks, Adam McGrath, Stephen Brodsky, and John-Robert Conners have created a cohesive and thematically sound album that puts Scofield’s influence on the band on blast.
While the album certainly has a live-sounding feel to it, it is in no way held back by low quality as the band employs the use of a rig consisting of Brodsky and McGrath’s Gibson Les Paul Studios, which give the band those classic pounding guitar riffs. The band’s fondness for Boss pedals also cuts through, as the recordings for the most part sound tight and clean despite the rawness of the recordings.
All in all, Final Transmission is a fitting tribute and testament to the man, musician, and father that was Caleb Scofield. Long-time fans of the band will not be disappointed, and anyone discovering the band through the 9 tracks on this album will be in for a sonic trip that’ll take them through the band’s whole discography.