Cage – “Ancient Evil”


ancient-evilMetal veterans Cage return with their 7th album, Ancient Evil, and it is everything one could want from a power metal band and most likely more, as they have pulled out all stops in releasing a 19-song behemoth collection of heaviness, speed, and power.

For those that don’t know, Cage will be entering their 24th year in 2016.  Originally formed from the ashes of San Diego metal bands Crusher and Nomad, is the band often referred to as the “American Power Metal Kings.”  As is the case with many bands, there was a bit of time between formation and first album with Unveiled being released in 1998.  Subsequent albums were released roughly every two to four years and Ancient Evil follows up Supremacy of Steel which was released in 2011.  For the fifth lineup, longtime members Sean Peck (vocals) and Dave Garcia (guitars) have added Sean Elg (drums), Casey Trask (guitars), and Dwight Magic (bass).  As a testament to the respect the band has obtained and their respect for the metal scene, Cage was on the bill for the recent tribute to Lemmy at the Whisky a Go Go in LA with Metal Allegiance.  For Ancient Evil, the band has chosen to go the route of a concept album which after several listens one can start to piece together, but honestly, the songs all work on their own, so if concept albums are your thing, you’re in for a treat and if you despise concept albums, you’re still in for a treat.

During my formative years in listening to music, I’ve come to see over the years of reviewing, that I’ve  missed out on more great bands than I care to admit and am often surprised by bands that I should know but don’t.  Cage is one of those bands.  After the somewhat annoying intro track (I dislike most intro tracks), you can hear a deep breath being taken and then the music literally explodes in a burst of fast guitars and soaring vocals.  For those familiar with power metal, you see Cage associated with all the known greats of the genre, but for me and my son, hearing “Ancient Evil” immediately conjured up the idea of Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) being in a different band.  Hearing it in the car, my son even asked if this was the new Iron Maiden album, which would have been my question if I didn’t know the real answer.  Vocals are very Maiden-like, while the music is not.  Riffs are structured differently, guitar solos, drums, and rhythms are also different from how they would be if from Iron Maiden, but the quality is exceptional.  These are some great songs, plain and simple.  Sean Peck’s vocals are really amazing on this album as he hits the soaring highs with the power expected and also carries the melodic sections with authority.

My only complaint with the album is that it is overwhelming, almost too much of a good thing.  Nineteen songs clocking in at nearly 75 minutes is a lot of fast, aggressive power metal to take in all at once.  Outside of the four narration-based tracks, the only real chance for the listener to catch their breath is the slower “To Save Love”, which comes at the end of the middle section of the story and “Tomorrow Never Came” which is at the end.  Around the time “To Save Love” came on in my first listens, songs were starting to blend together as I was nearing overload.  I do almost think this would have been stronger if split into two separate releases, but at the same time appreciate that it was released as a single project.   Production and mixing were excellent and I especially appreciate the somewhat rough edged tone of the guitars as that added an aggressive feel that was backed up by the pounding rhythms

This album is filled with great riffs and solos, powerful and soaring vocals, and a heavy rhythm section that ties everything together in a way that all metal fans can appreciate.  Easily one of the best of 2015 and one of the most consistently strong collection of songs I’ve heard in a long time.  Just go get this, you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 9.5/10

Written by John Jackson

01. There Were Others
02. Ancient Evil
03. Behind The Walls Of Newgate
04. The Procedure
05. The Appetite
06. Cassandra
07. Blinded By Rage
08. Tell Me Everything
09. The Expedition
10. Beholder
11. I Have Awakened
12. Across The Sea Of Madness
13. To Save Love
14. Christ Protect Me
15. Sinister Six
16. Symphony Of Sin
17. The Antidote
18. Tomorrow Never Came
19. It Can’t Be

Sean “The Hell Destroyer” Peck – Vocals
Dave “Conan” Garcia – Guitars
Alex “The Captain” Pickard – Bass
Casey “The Sentinel” Trask – Guitars
Sean “The Thrash Machine” Elg – Drums

Record Label: Sweden Music Group, Oct. 2015

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Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Lyric Video for ‘The Procedure’

Video for ‘Across the Sea of Madness’


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