In February of 2018, the members of CAVE IN gathered at their rehearsal space in Boston to work on material for their next record. It had been nearly seven years since their previous album, White Silence, had been released. But they’d been writing and rehearsing methodically, off and on, to craft a worthy follow-up. In that time, guitarist/vocalist Steve Brodsky had started prog-metal power trio Mutoid Man, drummer J.R. Conners and guitarist Adam McGrath started psych-punk outfit Nomad Stones, and bassist Caleb Scofield was busy with simian rock supergroup Old Man Gloom and his own band, Zozobra. After jamming all weekend with CAVE IN, Caleb got in his truck and drove home to New Hampshire. It was the last time his bandmates would ever see him.
On March 28th, 2018, Caleb was killed in an auto accident. There are no words to describe what a devastating blow this was to his wife and children, his friends, family and bandmates—not to mention his countless fans around the world. A light had gone out—a light with a monstrous bass tone and a feral roar. An occasionally stubborn light with a million-dollar smile who loved his family and music above all else. To describe his death as a tragedy would be a colossal understatement. Caleb didn’t live to see 40.
Benefit shows were held in Boston and Los Angeles, complete with performances from longtime friends and touring partners Converge, Pelican and 27. Cave In played with Converge bassist Nate Newton and Caleb’s younger brother, Kyle, filling in on bass. Old Man Gloom played with Brodsky on bass. Even long-defunct comrades Isis reformed under the non-threatening code name Celestial for a onetime performance—their first in nearly a decade—in celebration of Caleb’s life and music. All proceeds went to his wife and children.
Rewind to that night in February of ’18: Steve, Adam and JR are hanging out at Adam’s place after Caleb heads home. They get a text message from him with a voice memo attached. It’s an idea for a new song. Caleb is playing an acoustic guitar and humming a melody. That voice memo is the haunting opening track of Final Transmission, the first CAVE IN album in eight years and the band’s last with Caleb, who performs on all of the songs.
Most of the lyrics and vocals for Final Transmission weren’t finished until after Caleb’s death. Steve explains:
“The song ‘Shake My Blood’ was my first opportunity to express what I was feeling about the whole situation. It’s a mix of extreme grief, frustration and anger. I was trying to do something to gain the clearest answer about whatever the next move might be. We worked on the lyrics together, and all three of us sing on that song—Adam’s doing the high harmonies and JR is doing the low harmonies.”
On Sunday, October 21st the collective took the stage at Great Scott in Boston, Massachusetts with Converge bassist Nate Newton yielding the bass belonging to Caleb. Below are photographs from that night taken by Bananamasher.