Heavy Pendulum

Heavy Pendulum

When Cave In released their 2019 album, Final Transmission, many thought it might be just that. The band’s beloved friend and bassist, Caleb Scofield, had passed suddenly during the recording’s early stages, and it seemed—understandably—that heartbreak might prevent them from carrying on. Instead, vocalist/guitarist Steve Brodsky, drummer J.R. Conners, and guitarist/vocalist Adam McGrath enlisted their old friend and Converge/Old Man Gloom/Doomriders member Nate Newton to help them play benefit shows for Scofield’s family. In doing so, they breathed new life into Cave In and soon wrote an album that combines the band’s killer metallic hardcore and breathtaking space-rock eras with new and exciting musical forays. The result is Heavy Pendulum, Cave In’s first album recorded by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou since their 1998 classic, Until Your Heart Stops. Below, Brodsky discusses each track. “New Reality” “A song about the new reality of Cave In without Caleb on this earthly plane. The verse riff was something he wrote years ago during the White Silence days. I always remembered it, and ‘New Reality’ seemed like a good opportunity to give it a home. There’s mention of the Old Man of the Mountain, the face of New Hampshire, [where Caleb is from]. Even after its collapse, it’s still part of the state imagery. I thought this was a beautiful way to illustrate how we keep Caleb in our memory.” “Blood Spiller” “We’re all fans of Nate‘s band Channel from his pre-Converge days. This one goes there musically—channeling Channel with a member of the band. Lyrically, this relates to the heated political nature of 2020, but it’s not as direct as, for instance, the song ‘Searchers of Hell.’ This song is also a call to action against anyone in your life who throws around their weight in a way that’s disruptive or destructive to your well-being—basically, bullies and assholes who need to be confronted on their bullshit.” “Floating Skulls” “Musically, this one had a pretty wild trajectory. It was originally in a different key, different tuning, different time signature, with wildly different lyrics. It took several trial runs before we got into Deep Purple’s Burn territory and it finally started to click. Lyrically, this is probably one of the more lighthearted songs on the record. I had a whole concept for a music video using helium balloons printed with skulls attached to headless mannequins...could be a cool stage prop, actually.” “Heavy Pendulum” “This is the first song that materialized as a full band demo when writing the album. We demoed it remotely at a time during lockdown when people still didn’t feel comfortable getting together in a room. If AC/DC had jumped on the ’90s grunge bandwagon, they may have pulled this one out of the ether before we got it. Kurt thinks it sounds kinda like ‘Fever Dog,’ which is fine with me because who doesn’t like Almost Famous?” “Pendulambient” “J.R. took to the song ‘Heavy Pendulum’ so much, he insisted that we make it the title of the record. This Interlude takes the five dominant notes from that song and spins them into a kaleidoscopic foundation created by J.R. in his German synth lab man cave. Most of the overdubs are from the original remote demo recording, either flipped backwards or made into some audio mutation. I think it’s a nice return to the vibe of having segues between songs like we did on the Until Your Heart Stops album.” “Careless Offering” “I wrote this on an acoustic guitar, which I guess officially makes it a protest song. During the George Floyd protests, I was seeing people with significant reach on social media use these platforms to encourage excess violence, and I felt this was the last thing we needed. Their words were like careless offerings to an already fucked-up situation, just being thrown like raw meat to people for the sole purpose of creating destruction. On a lighter note, one of the bands that Cave In fully embraced as an influence on this album is Into Another, and here it really shows in the whole spacey midsection of the song—that’s totally us worshiping the Ignaurus album.” “Blinded by a Blaze” “Out of the five or six songs from my initial burst of writing, ‘Blinded by a Blaze’ was the one that got everyone in the band equally hyped. Later on, Nate wrote the heavy, chugging bridge part and Adam came up with the artificial harmonic guitar line that sounds kind of like the music you might hear coming from an ice cream truck on Mars. In just eight lines, I did my best to capture a picture of driving along the Pacific Coast Highway at golden hour several years ago, and what it felt like to share that moment with someone I was in love with at the time.” “Amaranthine” “One night at rehearsal, Nate turned on his bass amp and the main parts for this song seemed to just fly out of him. At some point, Caleb’s wife, Jen, gifted us a notebook that belonged to Caleb. It contained lyrics, writings, and drawings that she felt could be of some use to us. Lyrics to a song called ‘Amaranthine’ really stood out, and we didn’t recognize them to be associated with any music that Caleb had written. Combining his lyrics with the first bit of music that Nate ever wrote for the band made a really cool concoction.” “Searchers of Hell” “The main riff was inspired by a song from the first Between or Beyond the Black Forest compilation, which is a bunch of European off-the-grid jazz-fusion shit recorded in the ’70s. Aside from ‘Amaranthine,’ I think this is the only other song conceived entirely in the full-band stage of making demos for the album. Lyrically, I was inspired by some of the coded language being used by people with power in the world of politics addressing others through the media. The lines ‘You’re dropping a bombshell/You wish each other well’ is a specific example of this. I guess the takeaway here is that we should always question what the media is telling us, but also what the media is selling us.” “Nightmare Eyes” “Leading up to the summer of 2019, I was, like most Tool fans, anxious for the release of Fear Inoculum. I was so excited for a new album that I literally dreamed I was hearing it one night. I rarely dream about music, so when I woke up, the feeling of this really struck me. I grabbed an acoustic guitar and made a quick recording of the song I heard in my dream, transposed to the best of my ability. It took 10,000 days, but I finally combed through every song on every Tool album, trying to find some likeness to my recording from the night before. Thankfully, I came up empty-handed and realized it was fair game. So, thank you, Tool, for gifting me—in serotonin form—the best song you never wrote.” “Days of Nothing” “I think Adam was inspired to create this shortly after the Cave In/Old Man Gloom tour in 2020, which ended about a month before the pandemic hit. He came up with a bunch of cool segues for the band to use. When it came to sequencing the record, I felt that we needed a good palate cleanser after the sonic rubble left by the ending of ‘Nightmare Eyes,’ and this did the trick. It’s also the only track on the album recorded entirely outside of God City [Studios] and mixed by someone other than Kurt. If I remember correctly, the song title references the fact that our calendars were essentially wiped clean at the height of the pandemic.” “Waiting for Love” “The sound at the beginning of this track spawns from one of my favorite effects pedals ever—the DOD Envelope Filter. The use of this pedal dates back to bands that me and J.R. were in even before the formation of Cave In, so hearing it on a Cave In album is a nice little nostalgic trip for us. Maybe if Van Halen had successfully gone grunge in the ’90s, they would’ve done something like this. The song is meant to be comforting for anyone searching for love and coming up short. Remember that you’re not alone, and it might just be a matter of time.” “Reckoning” “I believe this to be one of Adam’s finest moments as both a songwriter and a vocalist. He and I have been doing acoustic/electric duo shows for a number of years, and it’s pretty thoughtful of him to construct a song that works especially well in that setting. The way we recorded the lead guitar part was inspired by ‘Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon,’ a song from what is easily my favorite Earth album. Overall, the production on this song was necessitated by the fact that J.R. was dealing with an issue with one of his wrists, so we had to make do with a drummer functioning at less than 100 percent. In hindsight, I think it’s pretty unique because of it. Lyrically, I think Adam really hit the nail on the head when it comes to accepting grief after losing someone close to you and doing our best to manage it.” “Wavering Angel” “We knew this would be the closing track on the record, so we made no bones about song length or pulling any punches when it came to throwing everything into the pot from all songs previous to it in the sequence. Led Zeppelin has ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ so this one’s our ‘Stairway to Methuen,’ the town in Massachusetts where me, J.R., and Adam grew up. I tried my best to be honest about wading through trenches of heartbreak while reaching for a song to guide me along. Sometimes that song has wings, and if you just hold on tightly enough, you can let yourself fly. I hope that feeling inspires others in a time of need.”


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