British hard rock is going through something of a renaissance at the moment, seemingly spearheaded by the tremendous and well-deserved success of The Temperance Movement over the last year. If there’s any justice in this world then 2014 will be Cage the Gods‘ year to hit similar heights. Formed in 2012, they have already supported the likes of The Treatment and The Answer on their respective European tours and it looks like the experience has rubbed off on their performance as debut album “Badlands” is every bit a hard n’ heavy rock beast played with a swaggering confidence that is audible from the opening chords of lead single ‘Favourite Sin’.
An energetic and catchy slice of prime rock n’ roll with a dash of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s fighting spirit, it’s a gamble to have it as the opening song as there’s a danger of the band shooting their load too early (well, they are young…) but they effortlessly bring the blues with next track ‘The Ending’, complete with a melodically picked intro that weirdly brings to mind Iron Maiden on one of their epic prog jaunts, and although the pace drops a little there is a maturity to the song that many young bands wouldn’t attempt until they were at least three albums in. The searing guitar solo doesn’t hurt either.
But the fun doesn’t stop there as the album is simply bursting at the seams with killer track after killer track – the bar-room stomp of ‘Sacrifice’, the perfect pop-rock of the excellent title track, the oddly-titled ‘Bruce Willis’ (a song that exhibits more charisma than it’s human namesake has of late) and the greasy swagger of ‘From the Start’ are songs structured and played like the band were seasoned pros. The guitar work across the whole album is excellent and shows a great deal of technical ability without being flash, and it all gets locked down with some solid drumming from Colin Jones, who has a nice line in fills and rolls.
But like most albums, not every song can be a complete banger, as the second half of the album is ever-so-slightly less consistent than the first. The quality of the playing is still first class but tunes like ‘One More Taste’ and ‘Promises’ don’t seem to have quite the same attitude as some of the earlier songs, having more in common with the likes of Foo Fighters or Bon Jovi – singer Peter Comerford’s voice does bear a resemblance to the poodle-haired cock rock pranny’s, especially when he is reaching for the higher notes on the likes of ‘Promises’ and the heartfelt ‘Falling’ – and although the songs are still good the album wouldn’t really have suffered by trimming down the twelve songs by one or two and making it a tighter, more compact collection of hard hitters.
Nevertheless, “Badlands” is still strong stuff overall and a debut album that heralds great things for the band if they can keep up the momentum. One or two duffers out of twelve songs isn’t bad going at all and the high quality of the majority of the album – hell, the first seven tracks are all cast-iron belters that’ll help you break the speed limit no problem – is pretty damn impressive for a band just starting out. Imagine what they’ll achieve a couple more albums down the line – keep your ears peeled.