|Review: Sun Caged - Sun Caged|
Label: Lion Music
Year released: 2003
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: January 20, 2006
Reviewed by: Ivan the Bludgeon
Rated 4/5 (80%) (1 Vote)
It is common knowledge that progressive metallers are the dudes who just enjoy writing compositions clocking at no less than 7 minutes using most unexpected turns and rejecting simplicity at any manifestation. Creating an over-complicated opus for them is as easy as pie and never looks like a problem. Nevertheless, the problem is how to prevent the listener from falling asleep somewhere around at the second track.
Fortunately, Sun Caged, a young Dutch Progressive Metal band, seems to have been able to put the axe on the helve with their decent self-titled debut. Even the most intricate tracks, such as Sun Caged and Secrets Of Flight can be listened to in one go. The fact that the production on this album was partly executed by Arjen Lucassen, a far-famed man in progressive circles, just sheds an additional lustre on it. Though, this one has nothing to do with Arjen's other projects and is miles away from his main brainchild Ayreon.
It goes without saying that being unprecedented on today's metal stage is rather an arduous task, but Sun Caged at least have tried to achieve the status of not being pure clones. And I must admit this proved to be in their competence. Just listen to the self-titled track and you'll get an irrefutable argument for this fact. Multivariate guitar and keyboard passages, irreproachable vocals, inimitable drumming and independent bass lines – all are here to stupefy the listener with its vigor and genuineness. Most of the pieces here hold on to no tempo preferring a stick-slip nature instead. Some of them begin as fast-paced compositions, but due to frequently utilized rhythm changes and interludes one is likely to forget the initial tempo as far as the middle of the song. The others tend to crawl at the beginning but only to break loose afterwards. The rule not to follow any rules is more than obvious here in almost each track. Just the final tranquilizer Unchanging can be regarded to have a more or less unchangeable structure throughout the song. The name itself implies it. There are no bad songs, but the self-titled track, Home, Soil, Secrets Of Flights and Unchanging are definitely among the highlights.
Instrumentally, this work is like a layered pie where every single layer is a real dainty, but the guitar work deserves a separate eulogy. Those into non-standard, nearly thrash riffing and shredding will surely appreciate it. As young as he looks, Marcel Coenen knows his stuff very well and sounds like a versed master. With his five fingers he manages to put up such whimsical pyramids that it just takes one's breath away. Though the other's contributions are quite tangible as well.
All in all, this is one of those solid debut albums that make us look forward to the sequel and hope that the latter will be at least a rival to the former. Apropos of this I should mention that the sophomore attempt is not far off and is tentatively due to this summer via Lion Music. For those just starting their first steps in the genre this release can appear somewhat difficult for perception. But if you are a wise and old bird regularly doing your prog exercises it can be of some interest, especially if you are fed up with your Dream Theaters and Fates Warnings.
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