Album Review: Cage’s "Science of Annihilation"

<!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in Two days ago I had the pleasure of talking with Cage vocalist Sean Peck. Today I delve into their latest work, “The Science of Annihilation.”

This is a diverse album on many levels. On one hand, Peck has stories to tell and statements to make. On the other hand, Garcia, McGinnis and Girodano have riffs and solos to blow away any metal fan. On top of that, a veteran band of 16 years shows that it can rock your socks off while making your mind work on an intellectual level. “The Science of Annihilation” is a metal masterpiece. Here are my thoughts, track by track.

(Intro) “The power that feeds”

This is a short lead in to the album. It is very dark and powerful. It has an evil sounding voice that sets the theme and tone for the album, culminating with, “behold, the science of annihilation.” …and a chill goes down my spine. I’m ready, this is gonna be awesome!

“Planet Crusher”

Starts off with blistering double- kick bass drums and screams of ‘planet crusher.’ Peck goes straight into a fast vocal run. Channeling Rob Halford he rises up the octaves, leveling off just before a screech. The guitar solo kicks in and the pace is insane. A couple of verses later the guitars go absolutely berserk, creating an atmosphere of chaos. Back into the vocals, the theme of the song (and the band?) is summed up best with the line, “master of speed, master of death, fall to your knees and take your last breath.” Wow, this is only the second song?!

“Scarlet Witch”

Beginning with a quick guitar riff up and down a major scale (I think?), ‘scarlet witch’ keeps the pace pounding and doesn’t let up. Guitar solos go crazy. The song changes tempo only by going faster. One thing is for sure: “she’ll crush you with her own mind… and into the darkest night you shall die.” As Peck correctly warns, “beware the witch.”

“Spirit of Vengeance”

Jumping out at me on this one is the complementary guitar work by Dave Garcia and Anthony Wayne McGinnis. The solos are there as always, but the guitars as a whole seem to be truly working together. Rather than taking turns exploding, they start a fire and nurse it together, keeping it burning strong. Peck goes to his comic- book roots for the lyrics on this one. “The evil inside you will eat you alive, wheels burning through night, the spirit of vengeance will be by your side.” ‘Ghostrider’ represents on this one!

“Black River Falls”

Beginning with a ripping guitar riff and fantastic drum work at high speed by Norm Leggio, ‘black river falls’ is an exercise in technical musicianship. Transitions move seamlessly from verse to chorus to solo and back. Leggio lays the foundation for the transitions with stopwatch- accurate drum timing and beats. This is seemingly effortless work by musicians doing work that is anything but easy. The song also takes it down a notch around the midpoint. A slower, harmonized melody takes over for a couple of minutes before Peck roars again. Mike Giordano’s backup vocals are perhaps most evident here as on any track on the album. On top of all of this, Peck finds time to get a satanic- sounding vocal part in and Garcia throws in a quick high pitched solo, making it all seem easy.

“Operation Overlord”

Begins with a quote from “D-Day” and then jumps straight into the ripping. Peck works in lines about war throughout the song. “Face the terror of tyranny.” “We’ll defeat the rusty iron cross.” Beautifully complementing guitars back the chorus. While it has been there all along, I particularly notice the low- end work by Giordano on the bass here.

“Power of a God”

“Power of life, power to kill, vengeance I will.” So, those lyrics being screamed by Peck. Brutal guitars by Garcia (matched only by the size of his muscles?). Giordano chanting, “power of a God,” while his low end sinks six feet below ground. Leggio pounding the double- kick in perfect time.

… Nuff’ said.

“Speed kills”

Fittingly it starts at, well, mack 4 maybe? Guitars and drums speeding by so quickly I can hardly think. So fast I don’t even know how to describe them. I really hate to compare bands to other bands… but I will anyway. The dueling guitar solos on this song remind me of just one song I’ve ever heard: Megadeth’s “hangar 18.” Ever try writing while headbanging? It’s pretty hard, trust me.

“Stranger in black”

“Catch me or kill me, I’m not going back. Foot to the floor, all dressed in black.” Peck is on point once more. Moving from that line to some evil sounding talk (more speak than scream). Guitars here are extremely riff- based, mathematical, systematic, brilliant. As the album goes on I can feel the complexity of the solos increasing. The album seems to be turning direction a bit in general as well. Getting a bit harder in a thrash kind of way.

“Die Glocke”

A slow start (for about five seconds) lulled me in. Then it bashed me over the head. The guitars kick in and I’m blown back from my speakers. No sooner did I say I thought the album was going in a different course than it hits right back where it started. Peck is back to channeling Halford (he is at his best when he’s doing this). Drums are driving, low end is growling, solos are smooth, seamless and brilliant. “Die Glocke” has put this thing right back where it was heading to start with. I can’t wait for the big finish on these last three songs.

Oh- and, “fight, fight for your life, fight to the death.”

“Spectre of War”

Beginning slow, Peck starts with, “my last drop of blood, has bled from my wound, now I’m returning to dust.” This sets the mood for the rest of the song. Peck is on point here. Showing his range, he goes to the lower end of his voice to articulate some of the powerful lyrics, before rising up once more to a scream as he belts out, “haunting our minds is the spectre of war.” The guitars hold steady and lay the foundation, but it’s Peck delivering the goods here on the shortest song of the album that makes this a great song. As we’ll soon see, this sets the stage for the album’s big finish.

“Science of Annihilation”

Opening big, fast and powerful, Cage unleashes an assault on the senses here. Leggio’s driving drums and Garcia’s riff attack are the key elements in this twist through darkness as, “religion and science collide.” Peck has something to say and it’s not just comic- book dreams. He’s making a statement. About war, about religion, about rage, about the duality of civilization and man’s impact on the earth. And he does this while being backed by blistering guitars and a metal sound that complements the power of the lyrics. On a fantastic album, “annihilation” is the masterpiece.

“Edge of the infinite”

The album closes with what Peck calls the, “science of annihilation trilogy.” “The song at the end is like a guy who gets killed on the battlefield and becomes a demigod. He becomes the specter of war and through the ages he eventually meets god way in the future as the universe is collapsing on itself.” Peck uses a satanic sounding spoken voice to finish his story. “Edge…” closes out the story in glorious fashion.

Topping out at a modest mack 2, ‘Edge’ is excellent in music. Garcia winds it down with a twisty guitar part that leads the album to a fitting conclusion.

So, where does Cage go from here? To quote Peck once more, “We make jokes that on hell destroyer we destroyed the earth, but on this one we destroy the whole universe. Now we’re trying to figure out on the next record what the heck is left to destroy… we’re in a quandary right now.”

Quandary or not, Cage will be back. The story, and their story will continue forward. They have much more to say and many more stories to tell

We’ll be waiting and listening. Waiting for the next act from this incredible band… here in the continuum.

Wanna hear more from Cage?


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