Cauldron - In RuinAs 2016 draws its first breaths, it’s clear retro metal is here to stay. With throwback acts like The Night Flight Orchestra appearing in various AMG year end lists and the utter debacle of White Wizzard scoring a coveted 5.0, the battle is all but over and we must accept our olde timey overlords’ authoritah. Cauldron is part of that conquering force and along with contemporaries like Enforcer, Wolf and High Spirits, they seek to compel a return to the simple days of early ’80s metal. On their fourth album, In Ruin, they’ve kept things particularly rudimentary and direct, striving to rock your socks off with a stripped down proto-metal sound based in the early days of the NWoBHM. It’s easy to listen to, digest and like, and while it certainly ain’t Steven Wilson or Opeth, it’s definitely catchy, fun and the perfect soundtrack to beers, other beers and the odd shot or two (also beers).

Much like High Spirits, Cauldron has developed a very basic, bare bones retro style, and with nary a frill to be found, all the spotlight is on the songs themselves. Luckily, they’ve always shown a knack for writing punchy, hooky little tunes with a foot in metal and hard rock, not unlike early Raven or Diamond Head. Opener “No Return/In Ruin” is the quintessential Cauldron song with a simple, but catchy, riff and the oddly soothing hard rock vocals of Jason Decay (ex-Thor, ex-Goat Horn). You grasp all the song has to offer instantly, but it keeps you sticking around because it’s so light, airy and bouncy and the little forays into speed metal are a sweet touch. The ’80s flavored guitar-work from Ian Chains (ex-Thor, ex-Striker) and Myles Deck adds an extra layer of cool and you end up with a very accessible dose of old school metal.

And that’s how the entire album plays out over the nine rocking tunes. “Empress” is a standout due to its Cirith Ungol styled riffing, doomy tone and catchy chorus, and “Burning at Both Ends” provides zippy, aggressive riffing that reminds me a lot of the early Obsession material. The riffy “Hold Your Fire” is a tasty number and “Santa Mira” offers a exuberantly rocking ride with a memorable, happy-sounding chorus. “Corridors of Dust” sounds a lot like Ozzy‘s “Over the Mountains” and the token instrumental “Delusive Serenade” mines the same metal mountain the early Metallica instruments like “The Call of Ktulu” and “Orion” once did.

At 42 minutes, In Ruin is just the right length, the songs are all fairly short and things end long before fatigue can set in. With no weak song in the bunch, In Ruin is the best Cauldron record to date, ideal for blasting out of the car stereo during a summer drive. It’s brainless, but so catchy and fist raising, you can overlook the lack of high brow appeal.

Cauldron 2016

The Cauldron template makes equal use of riff and vocal hooks, and the guitar duo of Chains and Deck hold up their end admirably. Every song features one or two basic but engaging riffs you’ll swear you heard someplace before and liked, and here they are again! They also pull out some killer harmonies and sweet solos to complete the sale. Jason Decay’s voice is like a mix of Def Lepard‘s Joe Elliot and Chris Black (High Spirits, Dawnbringer) which means you either love or hate his semi-crooning. I enjoy it and he’s quite adept at crafting memorable vocal patterns even on really basic song structures. He’s not a bad bassist either and you can often hear his plucking and thumping in the mix.

So what are the downsides? Well, as with past outings, the mega-simplistic material is definitely catchy out of the box, but it might not have long legs for all listeners. I’ve found I played their older platters intensely for a week or so then moved on and never went back. This may be their best work yet, but it’s hard to say how long it will hold my interest.

While I’d take a High Spirits platter over these guys most days, Cauldron stepped up their game on In Ruin and in the process delivered a record full of wicked riffs and kick ass melodies. If this dropped in May instead of January, it would likely be my “Go To” summer drinking companion. Regardless of the season, retro metal isn’t going away so you might as well enjoy the good stuff. This is your ticket to rock hard and ride free in 2016. Go Canada!

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: The End Records
Release Dates: EU: 2016.01.29 | NA: 01.08.2016

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  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Nothing to say about this release. The embedded song does absolutely nothing for me. But I re-checked that Aktor review from a year or so back (it’s there, in the “more angry” section) and damn do I like these songs a whole lot more now than then.

    So, I guess things are even now?

  • Daniele Cerin

    I know it’s nothing new either in metal or relative to their previous albums but good retro-metal with catchy hooks just does it for me.

  • Jerome St-Charles

    I like Cauldron but this one seems to cruelly lack conviction

  • Diego Molero

    The music is alright, but I really don’t like the vocals. I pass on this one

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    These guys are far from Canada’s biggest retro fetishists. Those would be Leafs fans, who are eternally stuck in the past glories of 1967.

    • The 3 guys who read this blog and like hockey will be very pleased for this comment.

      • Unless they’re Leafs fans.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          In hindsight, they won’t see it. Their extreme masochism leads them to listen to Bloody Swedish Bathtub Shining exclusively. This seems too happy; there is no light in the dark world of the Leafs fan.

          • strychnin

            At least its called In ruin.

    • Aydn

      Never thought I’d see my team mentioned on this site. There is no audio equivalent of the brutality of being a Leafs fan

      • But as a Vikings fan, I feel your pain.

        • Aydn

          That was truly tragic

  • El_Cuervo

    Is it just me or is are those vocals really weak? No oomph!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Yeeha! Love the new AMG masthead. Rock in Peace, Lemmy.

  • sir_c

    You enter a rock bar, drink a beer o’some, walk out and then wonder: was there a band playing?

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Hmm. Don’t know. Still busy spinning Diviner’s latest. Come into the glory of Fallen Empires!

  • Thatguy


  • Snobs!!!!!

    This is really good. Wish it was summer and not brutal winter. Thank doG for black metal!!!


  • Nice review! Not sure I understand why, but I’ve really enjoyed all of Cauldron’s releases so far, generally more than most other retro fetish bands. The vocals are weak (in a charming way) and the riffs are mostly plagiarised sure… but they throw them together into such catchy songs, played so well, and with a doomy vibe from the detuned guitars (great tone too) it just works so well. Looking forward to giving this new one a listen, though that sample track there isn’t among their best…

  • Dagoth_RAC

    Absolutely *loved* 2011’s Burning Fortune, one of my albums of the year. “All or Nothing” is a classic that still makes my playlists on a regular basis. Reminded me of “Axe Crazy” by Jaguar, which has been making regular appearances on my playlists for 30+ years. :-)

    But was disappointed in 2012’s Tomorrow’s Lost. Just did not seem to have great songwriting, which is so important for bands like this. There is no longer anything inherently interesting about the sound or style, like there was in 1983. So it really comes down to craftsmanship. A well-crafted song in this style is fantastic. A poorly crafted song in this style is an embarrassment. Based on the two songs I have heard from this album, “No Return/In Ruin” and “Empress”, the craftsmanship is much improved. Still need to see if the entire album can hold up that level of quality.

    And I love Jason Decay’s voice. Is he a good singer? No. But Ozzy and Lemmy are not exactly Dio/Dickinson/Halford, either. Good singing and effective singing are two different things. And I find Jason Decay’s voice effective in a way more naturally talented singers in the retro metal scene lack.

    I also think the band are at their best in speedy songs. Tomorrow’s Lost was a bit slower and less dynamic (tempo-wise) than Burning Fortune, which I think hurt them. When they are doing On Through the Night meets Kill ‘Em All, they rule. When the Black Sabbath influence comes in, I think they can get a bit bogged down.

    • I’m the opposite actually, I rather like it when they slow down, but mostly agreed :)

  • One More Thing

    Nice review, Steel! This sounds surprisingly good. I’ve never heard of them before but I’m not really able to latch onto retro style stuff as much as I’d like. Such is not the case here though! That song was quite enjoyable and I’m definitely gonna check out the album.

    • This! For me, though, the best thing about all this retro stuff is that it makes me (re-)listen the music that inspired it.

      “Listen here, mission control. Einstein was wrong…”

  • Krzystov

    Wow. Loudwire just made this album of the month and I can see why. Once again you guys are waay off. Blabbermouth 8.5 out of 10. And the Black Market (the most important metal review blog of the whole internet) put the newest Nile album in their top 10 of 2015. This is Cauldron’s best album. You hard rock fools should stick to your Bon Jovi and Armored Saint and leave metal to those who bleed metal. If all you love is hard rock ballads then that is what you should stick to reviewing. 2016 is here! Woo! Bring it! Your taste is unrefined.

    • “Hard rock fools”? Do you actually read this website at all? Nice album and I agree it’s their best, but Album of the Month material? No.

  • Dead1

    Disappointing stuff. Vocals are extremely weak and the whole performance lacks “oomph” unlike say last Enforcer album which kicked serious butt.

    • Tofu muncher

      Agree about Enforcer.