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December 2000
Released: 2000, Omega Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Joe

Only a little over a year after releasing their debut album Unveiled (*See March 2000 reviews.) for Omega Records, Cage has returned with their sophomore effort, Astrology. And a fine follow-up effort it is. Gone are the cheesy "Mississippi Queen" styled riffs that were found in a couple of songs on Unveiled (I hate riffs like that...) which makes for a much more consistent album.

Astrology features some very good tunes, especially from guitarist Dave Garcia, whose contributions to Cage’s debut seemed to have been the weakest (*See "Mississippi Queen" comment above...). Some of the better tracks are "Final Solution", Psychotically Deranged", "The Edge", "Root of All Evil", and the album closer "The Astrologicon". And while the band has retained the Jugulator-type guitar sound, their material this time around is much more ‘80's rooted than the last CD.

Now it’s time for some constructive criticism... Even though the material is better written and more consistent than Unveiled was, the CD still lacks a real ear-grabbing track like "Dancing Around the Fire" (An awesome tune, IMO...). The band’s performance is very good... The soloing of Garcia and Eric Horton seems more intense and focused and Sean Peck’s vocals have gotten even better (And they were great before!). Unfortunately, due to a only semi-good mix, Mike Giordano’s bass can hardly be heard, giving the album a very thin sound. In my car stereo, I have to set the bass to ‘3' in order to give the music some depth, which is not good. (Normally, the bass setting on my car stereo is at ‘0' or ‘1'. Rarely does a disc require it to be set at ‘2' or higher.) Then there’s new drummer, Mikey Niel... He’s a solid drummer, but his style just sounds dated, which only ends up detracting from Cage’s sound rather than enhancing it. The guy’s good, but he’s no Scott Travis, that’s for sure.

Anyway, minor complaints aside, if you’re a fan of well performed ‘80's style Heavy Metal, then definitely pick up Astrology. Just remember to turn up the bass a few notches...
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