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Cage - Hell destroyer 3.5/5

Reviewed: 6-29-07


1. Descension
2. Hell destroyer
3. I am the king
4. The circle of light
5. Christ hammer
6. Born in blood
7. Abomination
8. Innauguration
9. Rise of the beast
10. Cremation of care
11. Bohemian grove
12. Final proclamation
13. From death to legend
14. Legion of demons
15. Betrayal
16. Fall of the angels
17. Fire and metal
18. Beyond the apocalypse
19. The lords of chaos
20. Metal devil
21. King diamond (bonus track)

I first heard Cage at one of the Powermad festivals in the late 90s. I was impressed by their live performance of U.S. power metal laden with Judas Priest influences, and promptly bought their CD 'Unveiled'. I was somewhat underwhelmed by the CD, with the exception of killer track "Shoot to kill". So, Cage fell off my radar for a while. Fast-forward to a few years ago, and I began hearing great things about Cage's new CD 'Darker than black'. Intrigued, I decided to check it out, and the improvement was tremendous. Still playing Priest tinged U.S. power metal, everything was better from the vocals to the songwriting. Now with 'Hell destroyer' the online hype is that this is even better, so I was excited to hear it.

Well, I am not sure I think it's any more than marginally better than 'Darker than black', but it's a quality CD. My biggest problem with this CD is its bulk. It clocks in at around 78 minutes and it just goes on a little too long. It's a concept album that "travels through time from the Crucifixion up to a modern day New World order, to a demonic invasion of the earth and finally the resurrection of the Metal Devil himself 100 years after the end of the world". Okay. The story is told through the lyrics and with a few "interlude" tracks that thankfully don't overstay their welcome. *Cough* Manowar *Cough*. Musically, it's similar to their previous effort with a little bit more of Iced Earth's classic sound thrown in. Sean Peck is still a fantastic vocalist, somewhat of a cross between Harry Conklin of Jag Panzer and Rob Halford.

One of the highlights for me is the CD's first proper track "Hell destroyer". This is pure Judas Priest "Painkiller" worship, and rocks. "I am the king" has a killer harmony riff opening the track. Cage doesn't really set out to reinvent the wheel here, so you've heard this sort of thing before, but it's executed very well. This track really sounds a lot like Jag Panzer to me. "Born in blood" just completely channels Iced Earth with a riff almost lifted completely from the awesome 'Night of the stormrider' CD.

So Cage is back and it's a pretty great CD. I am not quite willing to call it better than that, despite the hype. My main issue is that the CD seems to last forever. Not only is its total length excessive, but a lot of tracks are needlessly extended to the 6-8 minute length. A lot of these songs just aren't complex enough to be dragged out so long and you end up hearing the same riffs and choruses over and over again. Still, for metal heads with more patience than I have, this shouldn't be a big issue. I certainly count Cage among the more elite U.S. power metal bands now with 2 impressive releases in a row. I just hope they'll exercize some brevity on their next release.




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