Cave In have had one of the stranger career trajectories in recent rock music history. Emerging from the incredible late 90s metalcore scene in Boston along with the likes of Converge and Isis (both represented in Old Man Gloom), Cave in didn’t seem like obvious candidates for the major label rock band they would briefly become. However, 2000’s Jupiter was a breakthrough time for the band and scene in general. The album mixed all of Cave In’s best elements – hardcore punk energy, prog rock and Beatles-esque melodies – and pushed the envelope of what this genre could accomplish.
So when 2003’s Foo Fighters backed Antenna came along, the band hit the mainstream but found limited success and have been recouping ever since. While 2011’s White Silence saw a return to form after a 5-year hiatus, their tale took a sad turn last year as, after another lengthy break, bassist Caleb Scofield (also of Old Man Gloom) died in a car accident. As a result, this co-headline Cave In/Old Man Gloom is both in honour of their late bassist as well as raising funds for his bereaved family. On top of this, the band have with this tour released their final album _Final Transmission_ which Scofield had been involved in writing and recording.
While in the U.S shows, fellow Hydra Head alumni Pelican was the tour support, Ashford, Kent’s Bossk have dutifully supported on the U.K and E.U run. Bossk amassed a cult following in the U.K during their original mid-2000s period, on the back of their three big, brooding masterpiece EPs. However, after a small hiatus, the post-metal quintet finally gained the wider recognition they fully deserved with the Deathwish released LP Audio Noir. Tonight, the band show exactly why people often referred to them with revered, hushed tones. Playing only three tracks over their half an hour set, Bossk displays their prowess as the UK’s premier post-metal band through heavy hitting, glacially paced epics. If there were any in the already packed Electric Ballroom – impressive given the band are on at 6.20pm on a Friday – who doubted or were unaware of them before tonight, they certainly came away knowing the name.
Given Old Man Gloom’s nature as a supergroup, it is not very often this legendary band come around. Since Scofield’s untimely death, Cave In frontman Stephen Brodsky has filled in on bass for the sludge-metal overlords while OMG guitarist (and Converge bassist) Nate Newton is returning the favour for Cave In. OMG’s 2004 LP Christmas gave the band something of a mythological quality, given the members’ insane touring schedules meant there was an 8-year wait for their next record, 2012’s NO, followed two years later by the double album The Ape of God which while a fantastic record also served as a trolling device after sending out “fake” versions to the press.
Irrespective of the band’s sense of humour, there are very few who can match their sheer ferocity and sense of invention – the major reason they remain so respected. The band’s mixture of sledgehammer riffs and brooding atmospherics give them a distinction from others in the genre, and it is best experienced live. OMG play a strong mixture of their back catalogue – including Christmas standouts ‘Gift’ and ‘Sleeping with Snakes’ – something Cave In also maintain shortly after, and continue to be impressively oppressive, given Brodsky and Newton are on double duty tonight. Similarly, both OMG and Cave In play tribute to Scofield by covering his band Zozobra with members of both joining together to play his songs. OMG reportedly have a new album on the way with Brodsky as a full-time member, an extremely exciting prospect.
Shortly after, Cave In (notably setting up their own gear in lieu of roadies to save funds for Scofield’s family), go right back to the start, opening with ‘Luminance’ from their 1999 EP Creative Elipses, the first sign of things to come for the band. Before long, we are off to the races with Tides of Tomorrow (2002) classic ‘Dark Driving’ and fan favourite ‘Juggernaut’ from debut LP Until Your Heart Stops (1998).
New song ‘All Illusion’ sounds predictably massive leading to much anticipation for Cave In’s presumed final record, however, nothing can touch the might of the band’s best song ‘Big Riff’. The sheer force of the titular riff displays everything that’s special about the band, catchy hooks met with a freight-train of weight and power. The song encourages the night’s big sing-a-long from the crowd which Brodsky – an underrated frontman to say the least – happily obliges.
Battered veteran Nate Newton fills in brilliantly for Scofield, ripping through set closer ‘Trepanning’, showing the incredible connection between the three major Boston bands giving an overwhelming sense of family and community throughout the night. While it may have come together under especially sad circumstances, tonight was a special night and send off for their fallen comrade, one in which everyone in attendance felt welcome and loved regardless of being a band or crowd member.