Cage - Hell Destroyer
MTM Music
Power/Speed Metal
21 songs (1'12'48)
Release year: 2007
Cage, MTM Music
Reviewed by Crims
Album of the month

I know what you’re thinking. Why is Cage getting a “legendary” rating? Let’s talk about Cage a bit before I answer that. Prior to this release Cage has unleashed three full-lengths beginning with 1998’s Unveiled. Now, I’ve always enjoyed Cage’s music. I own all their CDs and have listened to each quite a few times. They are a band who has gotten progressively better with each release as just about anyone can hear when they listen to Unveiled and Darker Than Black back to back. Darker Than Black was appropriately given a high 80’s score on this very website from Mike and cemented the band as a mainstay in the Judas Priest inspired realm of US Power Metal, Speed Metal, Traditional Power Metal… whatever you want to call it. In the beginning of their career Cage was plagued with some inconsistent songs (usually of the mid-paced variety) with the occasional awkward vocal melody or less-than-inspired lead. The style of Metal that Cage plays has been done before and done very well. In fact, it’s been almost perfected on quite a few occasions depending on who you talk to. So how does a band that takes an established genre and adds no new elements or genre-expanding possibilities garner such a high rating? Let’s change topic for a moment first.

The concept CD… it’s been a mainstay of Progressive Rock and Metal for quite some time. A concept for a concept release can come from variety of sources. We’ve heard original fantasy stories, original sci-fi stories, political mysteries, Greek tragedies, Shakespeare, as well as concepts based on other books, poems, or writings and some times even entire mythologies (among other things). There are some true classic concept releases with two of most widely praised being Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime and King Diamond’s Abigail. More recently Pyramaze’s Legend of the Bonecarver comes to mind. So what is the point of all of this? Well, to put it bluntly Hell Destroyer is a concept CD, and a damn good one at that. If you want to know why Cage is getting such a high score it’s simply because the execution of the concept and the actual concept itself elevates an otherwise heard-it-before style to an entirely new realm of existence. This, my friends, is how you distinguish yourself from everyone else.

To delve deep into what the concept is would do a disservice to anyone who hasn’t listened to this yet as I’d hate to ruin the story. What I can tell you is that it is a fantasy based story that has a rather epic scope that begins around Christ’s Crucifixion and ends ina post-apocalyptic future. What happens in between is up for you to discover, but rest assured it’s a very original story that involves the Devil’s rather dubious 2000 year plus plan for resurrection. The story is moved along with interludes, spoken word acting, and news reports (later in the track listing). The songs themselves either move the story along or expand on the theme present in the song’s intro (if there’s one present). In many respects the execution is similar to what Queensryche did on Opreation Mindcrime and works just as well here.

If you were to strip-down the epic and superbly executed concept we are left with of course, just the music. What Cage has done here, and what they’ve done since their beginning is present a Judas Priest inspired brand of Metal that also incorporates some of the more melodic aspects of German and Swedish Power Metal. The overall execution is of course not the most original but the quality of riffs, leads, and vocals is outstanding and really is a step above. I’ve read that the band spent a lot of time in the studio perfecting every note, rhythm and melody and it really shows. Where as previous releases had a few throw away tracks (more so on Unveiled and Astrology than Darker Than Black) every song is absolute killer (concept or no concept). The nature of the CD involves a lot of songs about the Devil, war, evil and such, and therefore the majority of the songs are extremely intense, immediate, and in-your-face. The riffs are massive using huge head-banging rhythms which are inter-mingled with some of the best lead guitar melodies since Persuader’s The Hunter. The vocals of Sean Peck will one day, if they are not already, be legendary. Peck has large range and is able to sing with a very aggressive snarl, along with a cleaner melodic, almost operatic style. On top of that is a falsetto that is absolutely killer and sounds a bit like Wade Black at times (for the record I think Wade Black is an amazing singer and perhaps that statement there might disqualify this review as being credible heh). I have to stress how immediate and intense this music is and what I like the most is that the vocals add to the aggression and intensity as opposed to just ride it. The best example of this is the beginning of Born In Blood and Rise Of The Beast. If these songs do not make you head-bang than I don’t know… you must have an “interesting” taste in Metal that I may never understand. Also, due to the nature of the music the majority of songs have a rather dark tone and mood to them (as alluded to earlier) and this enhances the story perfectly.

There is a lot of music on this release and while the band does not stretch the boundaries of the style by incorporating Prog elements or anything like that they have a lot of unexpected change ups throughout the music. The best example is on Rise Of The Beast where a completely atypical but awesome Iron Maiden inspired uplifting harmonized lead plops itself right in the middle of an otherwise evil and pummeling song. Cage does this on more than one occasion and if you pay attention to what is happening in the lyrics the contrast between “evil” riffs and “happy” leads makes sense.

I knew this CD would be something special when I couldn’t wait to hear the next song. Sure, this isn’t that uncommon, especially during the first listen, as you want to hear what the band will come up with next. With Hell Destroyer it was a different reason, however. Believe or not I was so drawn in by the story and the music I couldn’t wait to hear the next song so that I could find out what was happening next in the story! This is a big deal as I don’t even remember feeling that during my first listen of Abigail (though that was a long time ago). Anyway you look at it the band has more or less found the perfect combination of raging riffs, blistering solos, melodic and harmonized mid-placed leads, and incredibly intense rhythm playing coupled with dynamic and engaging vocals. Sure, the style is nothing new but the overall concept helps elevate what would just be an excellent release in the genre to a legendary CD that will be fondly remembered for quite some time (at least by me). If you don’t like this style of Metal to begin with nothing will change your mind here, but if you’ve enjoyed Cage’s previous work than buy this as soon as possible. Everyone else who enjoys Judas Priest and all the excellent bands they’ve inspired over the years than I highly recommend you check out samples as soon as possible and keep in mind that the CD is meant to be listened to in one sitting and not individual songs. My only worry when it comes to Cage is how the hell are they going to top this? Can get it better? We’ll see. Even if Cage doesn’t top this we’ll always have Hell Destroyer to remind us why Metal is so damn good.

Killing Songs :
Hell Destroyer, Christ Hammer, Born In Blood, Rise Of The Beast, From Death To Legend, Fire and Metal, Metal Devil
Crims quoted 95 / 100
Mike quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Cage that we have reviewed:
Cage - Science of Annihilation reviewed by Marty and quoted 88 / 100
Cage - Darker Than Black reviewed by Mike and quoted 89 / 100
Cage - Astrology reviewed by Danny and quoted 75 / 100
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