A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Haunt‘s Burst into Flame. In that review, I name-dropped some outstanding modern-day heavy metal outfits. Those whom I referenced were groups that embody the late ’70s and ’80s sound that made bands like Angel Witch, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Mercyful Fate (to name a few) legends in the metal community. Bands like Enforcer, Striker, Spellcaster, Skull Fist, and White Wizzard1 (to name but a few) do their damndest to take the baton and run with the same energy and passion of their forefathers. But, no list is complete without Canada’s Cauldron. This heavy-metal threesome embodies this old-school style with heavy bass, smooth vox, chunky guitar licks, and a dark cloak of melody—expressing their love for everything from witches and gloomy haunts to the darker side of life. Though their songwriting is firmly rooted in the past, their approach is modern and recognizable as Cauldron. With four albums and over a decade of experience under their belts, Cauldron are back. But do they intend to worship New Gods?
Not exactly. But these New Gods do appear to be melo and mid-paced. Nine deities that are as Cauldron as anything from Chained to the Nite to In Ruin, but most run at a gloomy, melodic trot. Not that this is new to the band but most of their albums consist of blistering-fast pieces. Cauldron have never held the speed metal antics of genre brethren, Enforcer or Skull Fist but the quick-paced character from speedsters like Tomorrow’s Lost‘s “Nitebreaker” and In Ruin‘s “No Return/In Ruin” are nowhere on New Gods. This new record is controlled and deliberate, focusing on gentle groove, melodic feels, and stuck-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth choruses.
Of all the tracks on New Gods, the only ones remotely fast are “Drown” and closer “Last Request.” The latter is a fun, fast piece that ends the album on a high note—using great groove, great solos, and a standout chorus to do the job. Other than that, the album jogs along with a smooth technique that rarely jerks or jars. From the punchy “Prisoner of the Past” and smooth-as-glass “Letting Go” to the back-to-back chorus highlights of “Save the Truth – Syracuse” and “Never Be Found,” New Gods is concise and fluid.
And, of all the tracks on the album, “Save the Truth – Syracuse” and “Never Be Found” are the best. At first, second, and third listens, there’re no secrets hidden within their catchy riffs and melodic solos, but the choruses get better with each spin. The former, in particular, has been on repeat all week at the Grier homestead. Well, except for the last two minutes of the track… These odd, almost Sunn O)))-like guitar effects conclude the song for—as far as I can tell—no particular reason. Especially with the bumping guitar chugs that open follow-up “Never Be Found.” This is the first of a couple jarring moments. The next comes in the form of the cheesy, hair-metal piece, “Together as None.” From the verse to the chorus, this one stands out (not exactly in the best way), feeling like an 80’s midsummer night at “The Whisky.” With the heavy “Drown” preceding it and the beautiful instrumental, “Isolation,” succeeding it, “Together as None” is fucking weird.
That said, New Gods is another solid outing from these Canadian metallers. There’re definitely a couple of heavy numbers here but, for the most part, Cauldron has reeled in and settled on a gentle, melodic groove. Which, in many ways, is a stark contrast to earlier releases. The band has always been good at keeping it simple, and their craft at making memorable licks and choruses has always been a strong trait. But there appears to be a conscious effort here for album fluidity and crafting choruses that won’t go away. Chained to the Nite is still the quintessential Cauldron album for me but this new record deserves a stop in its ranks.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Dissonance Productions (Europe) and The End Records (North America)
Websites: cauldronmetal.com | facebook.com/cauldronmetal
Releases Worldwide: September 7th, 2018