SUN CAGED – Sun Caged

SUN CAGED - Sun Caged


Lion Music
Release date: October 22, 2003

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There are a lot of bitchers out there who either don’t appreciate Dream Theater and don’t respect them for being the unbelievable talent they are, or even worse, used to like them but now feel all of their new recordings are essentially onanistic blather. So, for those of you who can’t take it, there is a new band called Sun Caged who have released a CD with everything great about Dream Theater’s Images and Words but with a more modern feel. Think of Sun Caged as “Dream Theater light” at first, and then give them the respect they too deserve. This is one of those albums that will surprise and astonish you the first time you hear it.

Sun Caged are progressive metal, with nuances of, in their words, “fusion and jazz, death metal, atmospheric and ambient jaunts.” Don’t believe the death metal hype, though. This is intricate, precise progressive metal. In fact, the only time you could say “death metal” is at the beginning of the eponymous “Sun Caged,” where a dark whisper/grunt greets you at the onset.

“Sun Caged” has a haunting chorus of “Eyes to the sun, eyes to the sun …” that will remind you of Dream Theater’s James LeBrie, and that’s just fine. In fact, Sun Caged vocalist Andre Vuurboom (Jera, Imperium) can even make his delicate parts even softer than LeBrie, and his screams, well, LeBrie never probably couldn’t attempt some of these notes. “Sun Caged” has a driving rhythm, heavy guitars, intermittent keyboards and a strange vocal effect during the verses that more than just remind you of Dream Theater.

“Home” is somewhat of a ballad that gets heavier at the end. It is nice to see the band’s musical range here, going from an acoustic dirge to a guitar-heavy, screaming metal composition.

“Anybody in there, anybody home,” says a female’s voice at the beginning of “Soil,” ominously answered with a male’s throaty, “Who are you?” The song pacing is very machine-gun, rat-a-tat-tat like in places, especially with the drums. This song embodies their overall sound, and is a great place to start, even though it’s song four.

Some of the songs you won’t compare to other heavy metal bands at all. At times, they sound like Kansas or Yes. When a band can go from ‘70s prog rock to death metal and make it all make sense, that’s quite a feat. Sun Caged does it.

Some of the other highlights on Sun Caged are “Hollow,” another slow, atmospheric progressive metal song; and the insanely groovy and longish (over 9 minutes) “Secrets of Flight.”

Sun Caged probably knows that they are going to get compared to bands like Dream Theater and their brethren. The interesting part is, they’ve only taken the best parts of that genre and melded those aspects into something they can call their own. The musicianship is top notch across the board, the vocalist has one of the best voices in metal today, and the song writing is superb. If you want to find a knock on them, it’s this: you have to listen to the CD a few times before you “get it.” But if you want your music spoon-fed to you, listen to top 40.

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