Panamanian (but resident in LA) outfit Cage9 are really quite good, if somewhat guilty of trying to be all things to all men on new album Illuminator – and stretching the album out way too far in the process.
Ostensibly, as far as I can make out, a vehicle for the phenomenal talents of singer/songwriter Evan Rodaniche, the band also acts as the musical ballast for Powerman5000 when that act tours, and the cold dead hand of Nu-metal is definitely evident throughout Illuminator.
Opening with a track that sounds what you assume Faith No More might have sounded like had they been a Nu-metal band, Open the Sky, will probably disappoint the more hardcore Sentinel Daily Reader, but there is material here to please if you’re prepared to dig deep enough.
It’s not Gallows, however, which is clean-sung metalcore without any of the angst or piss and vinegar, and it’s not Starry Eyes, which is Korn filtered through an American radio with it’s dial stuck forever on 2001. However it is the titanic Everything You Love Will Someway Die, which is a gargantuan Avenged Sevenfold/Metallica hybrid that, if there’s any justice, will be a song on the lips of every headbanger worldwide before the year is out.
Superb flamenco (or is it Spaghetti Western?) inspired guitar opens the track before being flattened by an avalanche of catchy riffs, flashy solos and the frankly superb vocals of Rodaniche, who, despite my bias towards this kind of music, really does sound most at home on this scorching piece of modern metal.
Sadly the band never regains these heights over the rather overlong duration of the rest of the album; that said, there are enjoyable moments. Oscuro finds its way to a good chorus despite the rest of the song being a bit tedious, whilst the more traditionally rocky Aleatoricism has it’s moments and another strong chorus.
However at thirteen songs in length Illuminator is just too long, and the album loses its way completely over its second half, with blustery, bass-heavy fare like Birds of Prey not really going anywhere. When the album closes with Take Back Tomorrow, a skittery, jagged little number that at least injects a bit of pace and intent into proceedings, I for one was left feeling that, Everything You Love Will Someday Die apart, there won’t be much on Illuminator I’ll be revisiting again in the near future. Which is a shame, because Cage9 is clearly an outfit with bags of talent.