Originally written by Gregory Bradley.
From the most unlikely of places, San Diego, California, comes Cage, classic metal’s hottest new act. “Darker Than Black” combines influences from across the realm of metal, from classic to power and even grimy splash of black metal thrown in for good measure. The amount of ass this album kicks is off the charts, singer Sean Peck sends a chill down my spine due to his Halford-like banshee wails. I can’t say enough good things about Cage.
By far the best thing about this album is the absolutely incredible vocals of Sean Peck. His range is unparalleled. His power is a force to be reckoned with. He even comes complete with bald head, undoubtedly symbolizing a third testicle due to the amount of balls he sings with. “Darker Than Black” seems to be a showcase for what this man can do. Think of it as a less over-the-top Primal Fear. It’s the kind of vocal power that sounds like a jet flying at near-supersonic speeds, with you, the listener, caught in the vaporizing afterburner exhaust. this man is Rob Halford, Jeff Waters, and Matt Barlow all rolled into one.
The songwriting is great and classy, something that is sorely lacking in most bands today. It’s not your generic swords/sorcery power metal, it’s not satanic, and it’s not overly cheesy. It actually reminds me very much of Blaze Bayley’s solo efforts, both of which were quite impressive. The opening track, “Kill the Devil”, is so very Judas Priest in it’s grand execution. “Chupacabra” slows the pace a little, but it’s eerie, fret-burning refrain (the non-vocal one) is very mood-setting and mystic. A little more than half way through the album comes the track “White Magic”, which has a classic, medium-paced Iron Maiden feel to start out, but soon becomes a beast all its own. It morphs into a hybrid of early Savatage and Annihilator with some evil, almost black metal vocals. There must be some sort of vocal layering because it sounds supremely evil, and therefore excellent. It’s an excellent change of pace and it really makes you want to stick with the album and hear the rest. “Secret of Fatima” is another track with the evil vocals, but it adds some weird “choir of the damned” background vocals to the mix. The album simply gets exponentially better as it progresses.
Cage isn’t your normal power metal band. As they say in the song “Philadelphia Experiment”, “the rules are made to be broken”. Very few bands have the power to send chills down my spine, but they manage to do so. Cage is a genre-spanning-and-widening band, setting the bar very high for power/classic metal bands now. “Darker Than Black” grabs you by the balls and doesn’t let go, strangely it’s a glorious experience. If you were ever unsure as to whether or not there are power metal bands with balls out there, Cage will reassure you. Even the cover art exudes testosterone, there’s no reason you haven’t ordered this one yet.