Cage9 – Illuminator
EMP Label Group / Rock’N’Growl Promotion
Release Date 26/08/2016
Running Time 56:11
Review by Rick Tilley
If you’ve read my intro piece on Ever Metal’s ‘Meet the Team’ page you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of all the sub genres of Rock and Metal that fly about these days! I can deal with the broader ones, but over the years they have become ever more fragmented with some music ‘fans’ becoming so insular that they won’t listen to anything unless it’s labelled with a niche genre tag. That’s a shame because you could miss out on so much that might, in fact, really move you! That’s why I’ve always tried to listen to everything regardless of how a band may be pigeon holed. As a Metalhead that lived through the 1980’s, much of what was labelled as Metal & Rock, i.e. Grunge and Nu-Metal, in the 1990’s left me cold, but that was always based on listening to a band before making a decision. I say all this because, had I just based my impressions of Cage9 on what I’ve read about them, I probably would never have REALLY listened to them!
Cage9, originally from Panama, but now based in Los Angeles have actually been around a fair while, releasing many albums and touring the US. It’s likely I’ve probably never heard of them because of the fickle nature of the music industry in the UK and the fact that ‘Illuminator’ is their debut international album release. Whatever the reason and notwithstanding the fact that Cage9 are labelled as Alt-Metal, Post Grunge and all other manner of things that might make any number of people turn their noses up, it’s quite clear from this album that Cage9 are head and shoulders above other bands of this type. ‘Illuminator’ is a hugely satisfying listen, full of captivating and extremely catchy tracks and performed by a band who knows exactly what they want to sound like…oh and it rocks big time! If Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson loves them enough to sign them to his label then you need to sit up and take notice!
Founding member, vocalist and guitarist Evan Rodaniche has a fantastic voice and sings his heart out on these thirteen tracks, whether that be on full on tracks such as ‘Everything You Love Will Someday Die’, which is almost Thrash in its execution, or on more melodic tracks such as current single ‘Oscuro’ which is haunting. There really isn’t a track here that fails to sound huge but that could also, quite easily, be played on the radio and that is an envious position to be in. Yes, it’s clear that the 90’s has been a big influence on these four guys but there is also an undercurrent of 80’s Metal and Rock, which might be small, but it elevates Cage9’s material to the next level and makes it really exciting to my ears! They’ve managed to collect all their influences into one big pot and produce an album that, regardless of style, sounds like Cage9 and I’m really surprised this band aren’t huge, especially in the States!
Guitarist Brian Sumwalt, drummer Leslie Wyatt and bassist Matt Borowski along with Rodaniche, are not only great musicians but make everything sound alive and real, their vocal harmonies are fantastic, lyrics are thought provoking and the production, which was also handled by Rodaniche, is fabulous. It is very gratifying to listen to tracks such as ‘Open The Sky’, ‘Starry Eyes’, ‘Aleatoricsism’ or ‘Take Back Tomorrow’ with their commercial, almost pop feel, but know the band haven’t once sold out because each one hits you like a trip hammer. ‘Illuminator’ is an album and Cage9 a band that should teach each and every Rock fan out there never to judge a book by its cover. I’m really looking forward to discovering their back catalogue because if any of it is half as good as this album then I’m going to be a happy Rick!
1. Open The Sky
2. Starry Eyes
3. Everything You Love Will Someday Die
6. Birds Of Prey
Evan Rodaniche – Vocals
Brian Sumwalt – Guitar
Leslie Wyatt – Drums
Matt Borowski – Bass
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