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SOUL CAGES

Soul Cages

Progressive Metal


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aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
4 stars A flawed masterpiece

The title of a recent thread describes perfectly the debut album of these great German prog-metallers. SOUL CAGES present a successful mixture of art rock and progressive metal with an eclectic touch. Within the 40 minutes that this album lasts, the talent of these musicians is revealed through a vast number of original ideas, disproportionate to the album length and rare in these times of Dream Theater and Queensryche clones.

The album bears the ''freshness'' of the 90's in prog-metal but also a strange originality. The most eclectic element of the sound is the eccentric, German-accent vocals that might discourage the listener at the first instance. However flawed the vocals are, the combination with the ethereal female vocals at several instances generates a ''magic'' atmosphere. The speed of the compositions generally ranges in mid-tempos. The strong asset of the album is by far the excellent musicianship - technically it approaches perfection. Heavy/power metal riffs build on the solid bass/drum rhythm section with numerous prog breaks. The twin guitars resemble to 80's classic metal but also to the early Fates Warning albums. Despite the heaviness of the guitars, all lines are based on melodic ideas, following a similar approach with the early 90's albums of Sieges Even (e.g. Steps, A Sense of Change) but excluding the use of symphonic instruments, violins etc and concentrating on guitar melodies.

The album comprises of 6 medium length compositions (5-7 minutes) and 2 short tracks (Uncommunicado, a melodic acoustic intro to the title track and Rainbow, the melancholic piano-based album outro). The album appears unconventional even in structure, as the short tracks appear towards the end with no intention to ''break'' the sequence. However, the use of Mindtrip might be serving this purpose, being the mellower track of the album, based heavily on acoustic guitars, beautiful melodic vocals lines and enchanting female voices.

The technical elements appear on the rest of the compositions which represent the majority in SOUL CAGES' songwriting. Slow and heavy melodic riffs usually interchange with acoustic and more sophisticated passages, as it happens on the title track. Reflections and the opening track can be described as the most technically complex ones while I personally regard New Horizons and Actors of no Return as the highlights. The former starts of melodically and slowly builds up to a Queensryche-like riff while the latter is possibly the band's most complete composition with excellent riffs and a unique use of female vocals.

The production of the album, although clear, does not ''boost'' the compositions and the sound of the drums sometimes sounds ''empty''. This, along with the sometimes ''awkward''-sounding vocals are the only drawbacks to an otherwise absolutely essential album to prog-metal fans. Although this band has not received the proper recognition, I would unreservedly place this album next to the masterpieces of bands like Fates Warning, Shadow Gallery etc.

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Send comments to aapatsos (BETA) | Report this review (#259647)
Posted Wednesday, January 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Soul Cages is a German progressive rock/metal band that released 3 underappreciated albums in the 90s before taking a 14 year break (I have yet to get my hands on their comeback, Moon). They create non-linear, rhythmically complex songs consisting of clean, melancholic passages and heavier sections, but those are more noisy than heavy. Production is very clear, shining light on all the instruments and bringing out the textures created by twin guitars (usually one lighter, another heavier), prominent bass and the occasional keyboard. Elements of power metal and also of 80s synth pop. Two vocalists - the main is strong, manly and expressive but highly accented, the backing is a subtle female. This may sound like a study in contrasts, but actually it is quite accessible with smooth enough transitions. The only reason I am not rating this higher is that I know that Soul Cages a capable of even more.

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Send comments to Progrussia (BETA) | Report this review (#1074110)
Posted Friday, November 08, 2013 | Review Permalink

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