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Chained to the Nite

Cauldron

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Album Review

This Canadian group, featuring two former members of the better-named Goat Horn, are every bit as stuck in the past as the retro-thrash bands that have been popping up like zits the past few years. But rather than dwell in the land of palm-muted riffs and double bass drumming, Cauldron are all about reviving the other side of early-'80s metal: the NWOBHM sound of early (pre-Bruce Dickinson) Iron Maiden, Raven, Tygers of Pan Tang, et al, not to mention the first wave of pre-glam heaviness. These guys write songs with titles like "Young and Hungry," "Dreams Die Young," and "Midnite Hour" when they're not delving into the occult with "Conjure the Mass," "Witch Trail," and "Bound to the Stake." Every song is propelled by a galloping guitar riff from Ian Chains, as bassist/vocalist Jason Decay shouts the lyrics with more enthusiasm than real vocal power, and drummer Steel Rider thunders behind. Melancholy intros on a few tracks, notably the almost Sabbathian "The Leaven/Fermenting Enchantress" and "Chained Up in Chains," provide even more of that classic feel, with the latter track sounding like an outtake from the first Dokken album. These three are talented players who know how to write a singalong chorus, or where to steal a good one if need be — the album closes with a cover of "Chains Around Heaven," by Oregon-based '80s also-rans Black 'N Blue. (There's also a deluxe edition available that features two bonus tracks, "The Striker Strikes" and "Restless," each of which measures up to anything on the primary disc.) Twenty-five years ago, Cauldron would have been signed to a major label, making videos filled with writhing babes and billowing smoke (sort of like their album cover). In 2009, they're on Earache and likely to be thought of as an ironic joke in the vein of the Darkness. But they're more talented, and this is a better album, than that. Take them seriously and they'll give you serious pleasure.

Chained to the Nite, Cauldron
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