The ominously-titled Final Transmission is a devastating and surprisingly optimistic work and homage to a fallen comrade.

The entire hardcore scene mourned the loss of Caleb Scofield, bands as far-afield as Young Widows, Converge, ISIS (as Celestial), Pelican and more rallied to raise money for the fallen musician’s loved ones. Scofield had already begun demoing songs for what was to become Final Transmission, and many if not most of those demos and ideas the band has incorporated and worked into the finished songs, building around the ideas of their fallen comrade just as they always have done.

From the opening chords–clearly rough licks and ideas recorded–you hear friends giving bittersweet goodbyes. If you already know the backstory this immediately brings a tear to your eye, not only for the loss, but for the love these friends all share and how integral Scofield was to the scene at large.

Similarly, “Shake My Blood’s” rejoinder “don’t leave…don’t leave me saying goodbye,” is just as heart-rending as can be expected, but lands in a song and a record that never feels despondent. It never feels like the band is wallowing in their well-earned grief. It sounds instead like a heartfelt, confused, and earnestly bittersweet farewell. Theres a sense of the bafflement when a loved one passes so suddenly and completely out of nowhere..songs can come and go abruptly (“Night Crawler”), or seem fuzzed out like a voice coming through the static in “Lunar Day” or “Led to the Wolves.” The variances in production to suit each approach, too, always seems absolutely appropriate. “Shake My Blood,” “Winter Window,” “Led to the Wolves,” and “Strange Reflection,” seem poised to be Cave in Classics for me personally, with some of everything of what the band has in their considerable arsenal on display.

Now, Cave In’s discography is long and largely flawless, but its also incredibly varied. Final Transmission, I think fittingly, nestles itself right in between my two favorite records of theirs–Jupiter and Antenna. With all the melody of Antenna, and some of the spacey-ness of Jupiter, albeit with some of the punch of Perfect Pitch Black (“Lanterna” and “Led to the Wolves,” in particular display a lot of the bands more metallic flourishes, with the latter’s instrumentation just as easily appropriate for Scofield’s other project, Zozobra).

While its hard to think of Cave In, much less a world, without as influential and vital a musician as Scofield, Cave In has produced one of their best releases around the sketches that their friend left behind, honoring his memory with a fitting, touching, and warm tribute. What the band has in store seems to be unknown to the band themselves, if optimistic, with Converge’s Nate Newton (a longtime friend and collaborator of Scofield) taking up his place for touring duties. Whether this is simply Scofield’s “last transmission,” or the band’s I’m not sure anyone really knows yet, but goddamn what a transmission it is.