Cauldron – “In Ruin” (High Roller Records)
Cauldron rose to almost meteoric fame a few years back as one of the champions of the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal, along with groups such as Barn Burner and Enforcer in Europe, who owed their influence (even if many of them weren’t born at the time) to the England’s NWOBHM. Revitalizing that authentic sound, and in many cases the traditional denim n leather look, Cauldron impressed many by their musicianship and it didn’t take long before major label Earache signed them up for 3 albums no less. “In Ruin” marks a break owing to commercial pressures (the very antithesis to true metal given it’s still very much an underground genre) and Cauldron now find themselves on a label more able to accommodate this perfectly in High Roller Records. Pity really, because “In Ruin” is probably Cauldron’s best release to date ha ha! Ironically, it shows a big step up in maturity as reflected by the deep compositions using lots of acoustic passages and an overall way more powerful atmosphere even compared to its acclaimed predecessor “Tomorrow’s Lost”. The musicianship too, has stepped up a notch especially in Ian Chains guitar work, with loads of wild breaks amid his raw riffola superbly contrasted by flowing neo prog melodies – kinda like Rush meeting Raven on belting opener ‘No Return/ In Ruin’! It’s not all speed of course, and the AngelWitch meets Maiden mid tempo follow up of ‘Empress’ is excellent thanks to Ian Chains warbling melody once more and its memorable somber tone. Jason Decay’s high end vocals certainly take some getting used to, especially for those yet to hear Kevin Heybourne, although I’m certainly glad to hear his rumbling bass more prominent in the mix thanks to Swedish producer Olof Wikstrand (Enforcer). Along with Myles Deck’s matching drum work, it all comes together brilliantly on ‘Delusive Serenade’, a six minute plus instrumental – the band’s first – which is a brooding opus taking the listener through different moods from melancholic acoustics to dark heaviness in abundance, showing how far the band’s talent in composing and musicianship have come. “In Ruin” proves that Cauldron have moved out’ve the retro cheese mire to take the bull by the horns. Granted this hasn’t pleased everybody, but Cauldron has arguably never been a career but a way of life – so bring back the 80s!