Compared to other bands in the classic metal revivalist movement, Cauldron has never been shy about their sleazier influences. The Toronto trio made it clear with their cover of Black ‘n Blue’s “Chains Around Heaven” on their 2009 debut, and each subsequent effort inches closer to perfect accessibility. 2016’s In Ruin was an excellent balance of heavy and catchy, making one wonder how it’ll turn out when the group’s fifth full-length promises to go even further into the latter.
For what it’s worth, Cauldron pulls this style off pretty well. The guitar preserves the icy tone of past outings and the band has had a flair for 80s-style reverb in their productions since the early days, so they certainly had a solid foundation to work with. Most of the polish went into bassist/vocalist Jason Decay’s performance. His bass sounds cleaner and his singing seems more composed while still boasting that somewhat nasally delivery. I’m not sure if he underwent any training between albums, but it’s clear that a more concentrated effort was made to make his voice more palatable.
The songwriting also does a pretty good job of building off what the band had done before to achieve a more accessible vision. “Letting Go” was a great single choice, but “Together as None” is easily the album’s most stellar moment. The upbeat chug in conjunction with the infectious chorus makes for an anthem that the guys in Dokken would kick themselves for not having written first. It’s the one song on here that I could see being an honest to gods hit back in the day.
But for an old school party metal album, New Gods does feel a little too slow in parts. Songs like “Prisoner of the Past” and “No Longer” are well written but feel rather stilted when the guitars are relegated to open chords and set to such sluggish drum beats. “Drown” and “Last Request” bring in some energy bursts but their placement toward the album’s end does somewhat diminish the impact. I’m sure a revamped track listing would make for a more energetic listen, but it would still feel rather stiff overall.
In Ruin may have been the most ideal execution of Cauldron’s sleazy take on classic metal, but New Gods never goes off the deep end. The style never feels watered down and the songwriting is pleasant enough to make even the lesser songs enjoyable. If you’d listened to the band before and were put off by the vocals, this may be a good time to reconsider them. Also guaranteed to be better than anything that the old glam guard will release this year.
“Together as None”