“New reality / I didn’t know it would be / Dawning on meexplodes the chorus of the opening track and the first single of COLLAPSEis the first full studio recording in over a decade. This rings true for the band in many ways, especially in that heavy pendulum is, of course, their first full album without their mighty bassist/vocalist Caleb Scofield after his tragic passing in March 2018. Shortly after, the band released Final drive – a polished set of rehearsal space demos with a title that seemed to point to some sort of conclusion to the genre-defying career of the progressive post-hardcore legends. Turns out they weren’t done though, instead recruiting their longtime friend and CONVERGE bass player Nate Newton to help them produce another stellar addition to their discography.
For singer, guitarist and co-founder Stephen Brodskythe glorious comeback of the group of more than 70 minutes was born from a “reconnection with the music of COLLAPSE after having to put the wheels back on the band just to raise money for Calebfamily. Doing these benefit shows in 2018 kind of changed the meaning of the band a bit for us. Like any piece of Caleb that we can remember or honor or commemorate in some way, I think that’s just healthy for us and for his fans and the fans of the band. Everything kind of took on a new meaning as a result of that.
“It’s good to have his spirit with us throughout the writing process”, acknowledges the drummer and co-founder. John-Robert ‘JR’ Conners. “And I think we managed to stick to it. As Etienne said, that’s a great way to hear him so to speak… his strength behind writing the music and the way he did it has definitely shaped the way we’ve been playing music for years and years. years, so we can’t help but still have him around.
Naturally then, Scofieldhis presence weighs heavily on many heavy pendulum14 tracks – some more obvious than others. The aforementioned opener New reality for example features a riff the bassist wrote over ten years ago, along with lyrical references to his life and legacy, while the eighth track Amaranth takes its title and lyrics from Scofield himself, more precisely from a kind of musical diary given to the group by hims wife after his death. In many ways it is also a record shaped by Scofield‘s, with perhaps the most obvious point of comparison arising from 2005 Perfect Pitch Black in that he sees the group building on the many facets of what they have done before as they assess what their own “new reality” might look like.
“It’s interesting to compare it to Perfect Pitch Black», reflects Brodsky. “Because it’s a record that COLLAPSE did when we were kind of trying to find ourselves after this somewhat confusing journey through the world of being on a major label and doing all this song and dance. So this record kind of has the spirit of a recovery of ourselves, and creatively showcases more sides of the band that were either dormant or we chose to focus on other things. in place. It’s a special record, and I think with heavy pendulum there are certainly parallels with the creative process, because it’s been so crazy for four years – not just with Caleb death, but everything that happens politically, the pandemic, the death of George Floyd and protests…”
With all this to think about, Brodsky laugh that it’s not a surprise heavy pendulum is as long as it is. Their longest work by far, he and Conners are proud to have given listeners something to sink their teeth into. “For me, it was a bit like having this feeling of sitting with a FLOYD ROSE or one ZEPPELIN save”, suggests Conners. “That’s what you did; you weren’t listening to music while you were doing other things you were sitting there with headphones on or in front of a radio and you just closed your eyes and went in there and tried to immerse yourself in whatever the band that you were listening to was trying to do. I struggle with that these days too, being able to give something my full attention, but I think that’s something that shouldn’t be wasted.
All this greatness may seem quite far from COLLAPSEis rooted in metallic hardcore, from which the band certainly broke away more than two decades ago, but, for Brodskythe influences of their youth remain “very, very present in this COLLAPSE Actually, in terms of our approach and songwriting… When I was making up a lot of this stuff, I didn’t have to do anything else – nobody was doing it! Everyone’s schedule was cleared, so for the first time in my adult life as a musician, I had no tours, no shows – nothing in the books. I didn’t even know when I was going to see my friends again. It put me in a sort of youthful state of mind that reminded me of when I just loved being in bands with my friends.
“We were just getting together and hanging out and practicing and making music in our parents’ basements or whatever,” he continues. “Me and J.R. did it for years before COLLAPSE was even a thing, and even when COLLAPSE was one thing we were still very young and had to ask our friends to drive us to shows and stuff. There is a very young place at least in my mind when it comes to the seeds of everything that was born musically in this new record.
Of course, one of those old friends is the aforementioned Newton. Long-time collaborator of all the members of COLLAPSEincluding Scofieldhe was realistically the only man for the job, with Conners outlining a largely seamless transition for everyone involved. “Nat definitely brought a lot to the table as far as writing goes. It helped that he was a new member of COLLAPSEbut he had always been on the side listening to what we were doing and understanding where we were coming from, what we were trying to do, and he had his own opinions on what would make things better if he were to be in the band .”
It is all this and more that makes heavy pendulum an imposing triumph among many others for Brodsky, Conners and co. Helped by another old producer friend Kurt Ballouand of course by their fellow founding guitarist Adam McGrathit stands as a fitting tribute to the legacy of both Scofield and COLLAPSE as a whole, while moving forward – as they always have – with renewed urgency and creativity. “Mmaybe we all kind of rediscovered our fandom for the band itself,” smiles Brodskyand like him and Conners look to the future with palpable excitement, it is clear that COLLAPSE are ready and waiting for the next reality in which they will find themselves.
Heavy Pendulum is available now via Relapse Records.
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