What's happening to you?"
One Word Review: Fiery
Ancient Evil, the latest album by Cage, is a horror story concept album, brought to life by a full-on frontal attack on the senses, relentless in its attempt to overpower the listener and unforgivable in its charge.
After being trampled by the album over the past months, I can only say this: Mission Accomplished! The album is a success in every way and brings to life its horrid story in the most Metal way, by means of unharnessed fury.
At first it can all seem a bit one-dimensional, but upon repeated listening, the album opens up in a big way, with layers and melodies protruding through a thick metallic curtain of sound. As it flourishes, it becomes clear that the album is pure entertainment of the most extreme form.
Sean Peck sings like the harbinger of Death and is backed by a band that brings the throttle down and keeps it there for the duration of the album. Sean Elg's drumming is insane in a strangely controlled kind of way, while guitarists Dave Garcia and Casey Trask bring on crushing, manic performances, constantly slicing through the sound with a lick or solo, bringing the intensity to a boiling point. Just take the first song, where Trask's lead after the first chorus makes the song feel vibrant and alive. These two animals share lead duties and trade solos in the most impressive way.
They also conjure some amazing riffs, as evident in The Procedure, where the riff that opens each verse feels as if someone reached back to the eighties and grabbed the best riff Metallica never made and added a sincere barbaric touch to it, resulting in a mean, headbanging delight. When that main riff kicks in, I am just sold. On another note, Sean Peck's vocal performance deserves a mention as he brings a distinctly disturbing atmosphere to the whole song.
Another personal highlight comes during The Appetite, when realization dawns with the line "You're not the same..." and a chilling feeling descends.
With The Expedition begins the second part of the album, cleverly done as a flashback to a different time and bringing with it, a slightly different atmosphere. The chorus of The Expedition serves as a perfect gateway to this flashback, as it holds a deep feeling of both adventure and portent, peaking my interest instantly.
Before returning to the present, Across The Sea Of Madness delivers a haunting journey of epic proportions.
The last part of the album brings an action packed finale. Favorites from this part include The Antidote, which conjures a strong atmosphere. The way the song slides into its chorus is just brilliant and the song pretty much captures the spirit of the album, one of pure entertainment, by any means necessary.
Nearing the end, Tomorrow Never Came delivers a fitting, intense atmosphere, wrapped in a sense of dread, which is beautifully realized as Sean sings the last lines of the lyrics.
The only thing that doesn't work 100% on the album is It Can't Be, which lacks impact because it is a repetition of what has already happened, but it is a small thing and doesn't affect my enjoyment of the album.
The album is clearly meant to be listened to on a real stereo, as loud as possible. In this scenario a monumental sound barrier is created and it is clear that Dave Garcia has finally found a fitting sound for the band. It took a couple of albums, but he seems to have settled on a sound which brings the power to a boiling level and the volume to the max without bringing in distortion. Only Dwight Magic's bass has a hard time getting through the wall of sound. Even if the sound could be more dynamic, I can easily live with this, as it delivers a great sense of power. What I wouldn't give to have the "Science of Annihilation" album with this sound.
Blaze Bayley and Joseph Tuttle deliver strong performances in the narrative department and fortunately the album does not fall prey to the narrator's curse, it actually succeeds in this tricky area.
I am also impressed by how Sean manages to make the lyrics read as a story and actually sing them in a way that makes each song distinct and different from the last. This is quite an achievement and must have taken a great amount of work. I can't help but smile at some of the rhymes in the lyrics and the way they are realized, as Sean sings them with tongue-in-cheek perfection. I can visualize this story and there is a movie here, I am sure.
I waited for over a year after pre-ordering the album before it was finally here. It was worth the wait, as was the superb package of extras the band included, the best of which, a huge cloth of the front cover, is now decorating my workshop.
I love the fact that the music begins with Sean taking a deep breath. This was obviously necessary since Ancient Evil is an album that never lets up, which is also the best thing I can say about it.
Ancient Evil is made up of harnessed, concentrated, pure Heavy Metal. Buy it and prepare for a sore neck.
Written By Steen
Online: Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Across The Sea Of Madness