Cave In’s latest release comes to us under tragic circumstances. In March of 2018, bassist and co-vocalist Caleb Scofield died in a car accident, just as the band had begun work on this album. To honor his legacy, the band used the demos they had recorded with Scofield as the basis for this album. These recordings were later rounded out with Stephen Brodsky’s vocals, mixing by Andrew Schneider, and mastering by James Plotkin, resulting in a rawer sound.
The raw production actually works in this album’s favor. Not only does it capture the emotional weight behind these songs, but it helps craft the atmosphere of some of the spacier tracks. The album opens with the title track – a phone recording of Scofield demoing a song on acoustic guitar. This track evokes an astronaut preparing for liftoff, as we are then taken into outer space with the one-two punch of “All Illusion” and “Shake My Blood”. These two tracks see Scofield and Brosky trade axe duties – with Scofield on guitar and Brodsky on bass. The bass solo at the end of “All Illusion” is incredible, as is the sprawling guitar work on “Shake My Blood”. Brodsky’s mournful vocal delivery, particularly on the latter track, is also outstanding.
The song “Lunar Day” sees Cave In drift into My Bloody Valentine territories. A wash of guitar-driven white noise provides the backdrop to Bordsky’s smooth falsetto. All of this is rounded out by hypnotic runs that are played on either a synth or a pitch-shifted guitar. This song marks the end of the ethereal half of the album as we approach the doomier half.
The latter half of the album isn’t as outstanding as the first, but it still has some strong moments. The highlight of this second half, “Lanterna”, features a punishing main riff and a bridge that erupts into haunting dissonance. Elsewhere, Scofield’s bass lines on “Winter Window” provide an excellent counterpoint to the beautiful guitar leads played by Brodsky and Adam McGrath. The final track “Led to the Wolves” is the rawest of the bunch, but that adds to the primal nature of the song. Drummer J.R. Conners provides the stand out performance on this track.
On Final Transmission, Cave In manage to make the best of a tragic situation. The combination of the band’s intriguing compositions, Brodsky’s vocal delivery, and Scofield’s own bass and guitar playing all in their rawest form prove to be a fitting tribute to the late Caleb Scofield.
Best Tracks: All Illusion, Shake My Blood, Lunar Day, Lanterna
Weakest Tracks: Strange Reflection
FFO: A Perfect Circle, Failure, Baroness
Overall Score: A-