Heavy Pendulum

rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. New Reality
02. Blood Spiller
03. Floating Skulls
04. Heavy Pendulum
05. Pendulambient
06. Careless Offering
07. Blinded by a Blaze
08. Amaranthine
09. Searchers of Hell
10. Nightmare Eyes
11. Days of Nothing
12. Waiting for Love
13. Reckoning
14. Wavering Angel

For all kinds of noble reasons, CAVE IN are one of the most widely revered bands in all of heavy music. Whether reinventing hardcore, exploring psychedelic and progressive rock or simply being instinctively inventive and idiosyncratic, they have been a potent (if intermittent) force for creative good since the mid-'90s, with numerous offshoots and side-projects helping to flesh out an edifying overall picture.

Battered but unbowed, following the tragic death of bassist Caleb Scofield, the legendary Boston pioneers earned endless respect for completing 2019's "Final Transmission" in their fallen friend's honor. That album was rightly acclaimed, but its emotional backdrop was as much a distraction as an essential feature. On "Heavy Pendulum", the righteous creative fire that has propelled CAVE IN through the decades is blazing away like never before. Like some exquisite and audacious hybrid of "Until Your Heart Stops", "Jupiter" and its darkly tender predecessor, the band's seventh album is so full of energy and inspiration that it is an obvious career peak long before the dying strains of extraordinary 12-minute closer "Wavering Angel" recede from view.

The first song to be unveiled from this colossus, "New Reality", is an act of flagrant riff worship, brutally heavy but shrouded in melody and that weird sense of elegance that CAVE IN have frequently harnessed in the past. More importantly, it is an exquisitely crafted heavy metal song, imbued with exhilarating urgency but also melancholy, resignation and disquiet. Furthermore, it rocks like an absolute bastard. Slower and heavier, "Blood Spiller" is every bit as compelling, as frontman Stephen Brodsky wraps an askance melody around a muscular web of riffs. In contrast, "Floating Skulls" channels the rarefied, proggy hooks of "Jupiter" through a barrage of scabrous, rock 'n' roll rowdiness. The title track's languorous, loose-limbed, psych-metal squall makes it four stone cold gems in a row, and suddenly the reality dawns that "Heavy Pendulum" might just be the greatest thing CAVE IN have ever produced.

There is certainly no dip in quality at any point here: no small achievement on an album that lasts for 71 minutes. From the hazy, rolling riffs of "Careless Offering" and the VOIVOD-like angular churn of "Searchers of Hell", to the tripped-out, downtempo bluster of "Blinded by a Blaze" and the bewitched acoustic haze of "Reckoning", "Heavy Pendulum" is a wildly imaginative master class and yet another reason to embarrass CAVE IN with talk of legendary status. On this evidence, they are far too absorbed in the process of making wonderful music to be even vaguely interested in such things. Praise be.

Author: Dom Lawson
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