Cage - Science of Annihilation
American Power Metal Kings... So the Science of Annihilation cover states and I am not one to argue, in fact I am more than inclined to agree after having experienced this, their latest full frontal assault on the senses. Since the magnificent 2007 release, and my album of the year, Hell Destroyer, Cage have become even more intense and uncompromising than before. Prepare for a musical thrill ride.
The first couple of listens may leave you with the feeling that the album is very one-note, charging ahead full throttle without ever catching a breath but give the songs time to grow and they will show their many layers.
After the crushing feeling the first couple of listens left me with the album started opening up and it became clear that every song is a winner, each having knock-out moments and filled to the brim with details on all levels. Guitar, vocals, drums, you name it, everything is of the highest class. The thing is that these songs are so jam-packed that they can be a lot to take in at once. The power metal equivalent of Slayer's Reign in Blood? I kid you not.
Lead vocalist Sean Peck is a chief weapon in the Cage arsenal. His voice is an incredible entity spliced from vocal gods like King Diamond, Jon Oliva and Rob Halford. Sean has the ability to shape his voice like King Diamond, the emotional edge and ability to go completely overboard like Jon Oliva and the high pitched power of Rob Halford. He is the most promising vocalist I have heard in a long while and though there is still a way to go before he surpasses any of the names mentioned, he has the potential to one day stand proudly at their side. He challenges his vocal chords through the album and makes it through in an impressive way. Holding back instead of letting it rip quite so often would give those rip-roaring high-pitch moments more impact and that is the only nit-picking point I can make where I sense some possible way to improve in the future. Spectre of War and Planet Crusher come to mind as an example of this. Operation Overlord and Die Glocke are two songs where he balances it perfectly.
Guitarists David Garcia and Anthony Wayne McGinnis lay down a fierce performance as they trade solos and conjure riffs that are as intense as the vocals. These two guitarists are another highlight of the album.
When I read that Norm Leggio of Psychotic Waltz fame had joined Cage last year I nearly fell off my chair in surprised happiness. He is a fantastic drummer and provides yet another edge to the band.
The power that feeds Planet Crusher is born from a breakneck guitar riff and superfast, yet detailed drumming. The vocals seem to travel at light speed from another stratosphere. If you have a "What just happened?" feeling after the first couple of listens I would describe that as a normal reaction. As an opening song it delivers an effective blow to the system.
There is no holding back as the King Diamond inspired? Scarlet Witch opens mercilessly with aggressive guitar chords and powerful vocals. It is a brilliant song with many highlights. The bridge section leading to a blinding dual guitar solo complete with galloping rhythm section, is spellbinding and the scream that returns the song to the last of its fast paced verse sections is memorable as well.
Sean's voice changes into an effective haunted wail as it enters the chorus for a short breather. The song shows just how tight the band is. Guitar, drums and voice unite perfectly and support each other in various parts of the song. There are some very interesting King Diamond and Savatage inspirations in this song as it comes to life with a captivating vocal performance.
The King Diamond inspiration becomes clearer in the horrific Black River Falls. The way the song builds is completely amazing and the way the simple but effective chorus is sung delivers a spine tingling sensation. Another brilliant song jam-packed with detail and metallic entertainment.
Operation Overlord has become my favorite song of the year in no time. The short description of the song would be majestic. The opening speech followed by the most amazing dual guitar attack defies description; it really has to be felt. The melody and atmosphere just suit the song so well. The way Sean sings is captivating and reaches new heights with the way the last word of every verse is screamed out just a bit higher and carried over to the bridge section; a perfect transition. The song captures feelings of pride and honor alongside chaos. This whole song is a state of total ... bliss.
Stranger in Black is another memorable highlight. Especially the chorus section flows very well.
If you still need convincing before you run out and purchase this album then take a listen to the way Sean sings the opening lines of Die Glocke and if you don't feel the chills then please notice the guitar sliding around in the background. Feel it now? Good. This is another personal favorite. Both the lyrics and music draws the listener into the story and with a well executed middle section the song is a headbanging energy-filled triumph. This is one of those songs where everything works and you will notice little detail coming to life with each listen.
The final three-part title track puts a dark and fitting conclusion to the album. Throughout, the lyrics suit the music well and are an interesting read. The album has a depth that only grows deeper with time.
The songs I haven't gone into detail with are treats as well and each have their own highlights. It's just that I have to finish this review eventually.
With such incredible songs as I've tried to describe above it's bloody catastrophic that the sound doesn't do them full justice due to a production issue which hampers all too many albums these days. The sound suffers from massive distortion, which I guess comes from the album being mastered too loud.  Depending on whose ears are listening and the listening environment, this may be a big deal or hold no relevance whatsoever.
Some specific examples of what I'm talking about can be found in the guitar solo of "Speed Kills" from 1:07 to 1:18, the most intense sections of "Planet Crusher", the chorus section in "Scarlet Witch" 0:53 to 1:17, the guitar solo in "Operation Overlord" from 2:47 to 3:25 and many many other places. The sound lacks dynamics and those extra fast and monster powerful passages loose impact due to the sound already being maxed out and end up having distorted noise in the background resulting in a messy sound. My ears hurt in the non literal sense when it is so obvious that my impression of the album would have been even better if the loudness issue had been handled properly. Prolonged listening can become grating especially if you are using a good set of headphones.
I hope that producers will understand that louder is not better... Bring back the dynamic sound!

That the album is still pure enjoyment and gets my highest recommendation says something about the song quality. It's just a shame that I imagine a perfect sound could have made the album into something completely out of this world.
Summing up Science of Annihilation is tough but showing no compromise and cutting to the bone, Science of Annihilation is a supreme, at times even magical, mix of King Diamond and old Savatage on speed. As they say Speed Kills. Conclusion: Science of Annihilation is a killer album of galactic proportions.
Cage is the hope in a genre that has steadily declined over the past years. Don't miss this one! Their albums can be ordered directly from their website.
Favorite songs: Operation Overlord, Die Glocke, Black River Falls, Scarlet Witch, Stranger in Black

Written by Steen
Monday, May 18, 2009
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Steen: 8.5/10

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Review by Steen

Released by
Musicbuymail - 2009

01. The Power That Feeds
02. Planet Crusher
03. Scarlet Witch
04. Spirit Of Vengeance
05. Black River Falls
06. Operation Overlord
07. Power Of A God
08. Stranger In Black
09. Die Glocke
10. Spectre Of War
11. Science Of Annihilation
12. At The Edge Of The Infinite

Supplied by ArtistWorxx

Power Metal

Related links
Visit the band page

Cage - Official Website

Other articles
Darker Than Black - (Hashman)

Band Information - (Steen)

Hell Destroyer - (Steen)

Interview with Sean Peck - (Steen)

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