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DARIO MOLLO / TONY MARTIN
THE CAGE 2

Frontiers / Now & Then FRCD 113
Produced by: Dario Mollo

Released: May 22 / Website
Relatives: Dio, Rainbow, Sabbath
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 90%

  1. Terra Toria
  2. Overload
  3. Life Love And Everything
  4. Balance Of Power
  5. Amore Silenzioso
  6. II (Instrumental)
  7. Wind Of Change
  8. Theater Of Dreams
  9. What A Strange Thing Love Is
  10. Dazed And Confused
  11. Guardian Angel
  12. Poison Roses

This is album number 2 for Italian guitarist Dario Mollo with UK singer Tony Martin. The guys made their solid debut a few years back, with Mollo also making the side project Voodoo Hill with Glenn Hughes.
Tony Martin's been a quite lad the past couple of years, while he battled a cancer scare. But now he's back and to my ears sounding better than ever.
For fans of The Cage debut and Voodoo Hill, I think this album betters both those records.
This rocks hard, but remains melodic and even soulful in places, thanks to the super smooth power vocals of Martin.
He's a great singer and maybe a little underrated also, despite being at the helm of Black Sabbath for a number of years. His solo album from the early 90's was wonderfully melodic and showcased another side to the heavy rock frontman. Some of that style is featured again here.
Opening track Terra Toria is as heavy as it comes for these guys, a hard hitting riff and pounding rhythm section driving the song. But it's the vocal melodies and hooks that give the song it's edge, amplified by the fact the chorus features a dark metal chant!
Overload kicks in heavy, but softens out with some strong vocals providing the song's mood and melody.
Dario Mollo's guitar playing has stepped up another notch ad he must be rated alongside the best in the business. The opening to Life Love And Everything only emphasizes this. His balance between shredding and riffing and a more laid back melodic feel across the album's 12 tracks is the foundation of why this album is as good as it is.
Balance Of Power is one of the albums more fast paced numbers, but like all good hard rocking albums, balance is needed. The slower, six minute plus Amore Silenzioso (complete with drum solo!) and the melodic Instrumental II provide that needed break. martin's vocals are fantastic on Amore....
The slow Neal Schon like intro to the rock ballad Wind Of Change continues the mid album wind down, which begind to gather momentum again with the soulful rocker Theater Of Dreams.
What A Strange Thing Love Is is as straight ahead a rock song as this album has and Dazed And Confused is pure slow paced Led Zeppelin. Not the greatest track on the album and it does somewhat dent the flow of the album.
By the time Guardian Angel starts, you begin to think a pick up in pace is needed - that last Zep-like track might have been one to many. Thankfully this is a solid hard rock track.
Poison Roses is a slow starting rock track, with a more soulful melodic edge. It's a good track and closes the album very well.
I do think that the best material of all is featured on the first half of the album, as there are a couple of tracks that drag towards the end - when Dario gets off track a little and spends a little time indulging in the blues.
The songs do range across a couple of different emotions, but the excellent guitar work and outstanding vocals bind it all together and generally the albums songs are of excellent quality.
BOTTOM LINE: A solid and very enjoyable melodic hard rock record. There are a couple of times when things seem like they might be going awol, but that quickly disappears as the next track rips up the speakers.
A mighty vocal effort from Martin and some fine shredding and riffing from Mollo puts this up there with the best heavy albums of 2002.
PRODUCTION: 92% SONGS: 88% VIBE: 90%ATTITUDE: 90%
ESSENTIAL FOR: All Tony Martin fans, fans of the debut, Voodoo Hill fans and fans of great European hard rock.
DISCOGRAPHY:The Cage . Voodoo Hill . The Cage 2



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