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.
Originally intended as demos, Final Transmission marks the first Cave In album in eight years and the band’s last with Caleb, who performs on all of the songs. Caleb’s voice—musical and physical—are everywhere on Final Transmission. The opening title track is a voice memo of a song idea he sent to his bandmates the last time they saw each other. “Hearing his voice fucks you up a little bit,” Adam says today. “We were surprised to get it from him, actually, but we thought it was great. And that was it. In a weird way, it’s the end of the story as far as our relationship together.”
Caleb plays bass on six of the album’s remaining eight songs, and guitar on the other two. Even a cursory listen of Final Transmission will offer glimpses of past Cave In eras, from the scintillating space rock of their 2000 breakthrough opus Jupiter to the ripping metal melodies of White Silence. All told, it’s a direction that was largely spearheaded by Caleb. “When I look back at our email correspondence about the demos, Caleb had a really crystallized view of how to navigate the whole thing,” Steve reveals. “He was really digging the stuff that was spacey, heavy, a little bit weird, but with very pretty melodies and hooks. I think he was encouraging us to embrace what we’ve always been good at and what sets us apart from our contemporaries.”