Chained To The Nite

Written by: GR on 16/11/2009 16:11:36

Following on from my review of White Wizzard comes another recent Earache signing linked to their "Heavy Metal Killers" compilation and the banding around of the term 'NWOTHM' (New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal) in the pages of Metal Hammer. Cauldron are a Canadian trio bashing out tunes inspired by the NWOBHM, but with quite a different end result to their American label-mates. Whilst you'd think that a band with an old school metal sound, album artwork featuring a chained-up woman and song titles like "Witch Trail" would make for a simple assessment and easily find their way to a solid album score, I've found myself slightly unsure of my feelings towards "Chained To The Nite".

On the face of it, the album is a pretty enjoyable listen; Cauldron's sound being very riff-orientated and their song writing being solid, if unimaginative, throughout. In terms of their song craft, the opening salvo of "Young And Hungry", "Conjure The Mass" and "Chained Up In Chains" provide good examples, with each of these tracks having a memorable chorus and decent driving riff. These three songs - probably the strongest on offer - have even wound their way into my head, their tunes popping up now and again on my internal jukebox and proving their catchiness. Why is it, then, that overall I find "Chained To The Nite" somewhat underwhelming? I think the answer lies in the execution - particularly with regards to the vocals of frontman Jason Decay, which are lacking in power and dynamics. A quick look at Cauldron's Last.FM page reveals the vocals to indeed be the main point of contention for many, with some feeling they simply "suck", others wanting more enthusiasm and even those really liking the band admitting they're a weak point. Vocals aside, the instrumentation has quite a 'live' feel to it, which probably reflects the band's old-school influences and it wouldn't surprise me if they had recorded most of the songs in a single take. This sort of raw sound usually lends itself to a more authentic experience, but here it doesn't quite 'click' with me across the whole album, despite my taste in music suggesting I should love what I'm hearing.

These reservations certainly don't make "Chained To The Nite" a bad album - indeed I must admit that with each extra listen I've warmed to it's charms ever-so-slightly more - but most definitely stop it from being a 'great' record. The guitar harmonies of "Dreams Die Young" or the simple melodic stomp of "Midnight Hour" are pleasing enough in a background-music toe-tapping way, but I can't help but think of Cauldron's guitarist and his miserable expression when I saw them support Wolf last month. That lack of excitement is mirrored by my own for much of this album, as it rarely raises itself above 'decent' to anything more outstanding. Album closer "Chains Around Heaven" (they do seem to like their chains!), however, is something of an unassuming gem and could easily have been a hit single for a band like Dokken or WASP back in the 80s. There are those who seem to absolutely love what Cauldron are doing, but they've failed to really light my fire both on record and in the live environment - you could certainly do a lot worse than checking out "Chained To The Night" though, and there's potential on show here.


Download: Conjure The Mass, Chained Up In Chains, Chains Around Heaven
For the fans of: Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Battlewitch
Listen: Myspace

Release date 06.04.2009

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