Released: 2003, Indie
In one sense I don’t enjoy reviewing independent local bands because as a journalist I feel I have a responsibility to be honest. At times there is always the awkward social component when you meet the band and have to explain that you don’t like their art. With bands from far way that possibility is remote. I don’t think anyone likes to hear negativity about something they have put their heart and soul into especially young bands. So I brace myself and tell myself if they can’t take criticism they are in the wrong business and if I present an honest and logical reason why I don’t like a CD the band ideally will respect that. Which brings us to CTG demo.
Let’s hit all the positive first. A good pro-demo. It looks good. It is budget but it looks good with a cover, two photos, a sticker, a cool logo and the band is registered with Socan (a government tracking agency, that supports indie bands…smart move!). Lyrics would have been nice but everything else is there that needs to be there. The production is quite good, decent mix, loud and powerful and better than many demos I have heard before.
Five songs is a good sampling of the sound and style of the band, hitting the 17 minute mark. They have interesting and compelling song titles and a cool band name that I’m surprised no one else (to my knowledge) has claimed yet. So far all is good.
A look at the picture brought me down a bit; one dude wearing a Pantera shirt and another dude in sandals (the least ‘metal’ of all footwear) wearing a Down shirt. Two bands I don’t like very much at all! It is safe to assume that if you are going to wear the t-shirt of another band on your own CD, you are probably influenced, to some degree by that band. Unfortunately for me, I am right. Mr. Anselmo is a big influence on these guys, which turned me right off.
This is where I carefully and objectively qualify my comments! Are they bad? No, not at all in fact BW&BK gave them high marks for this same demo, so the variation in opinion might be extreme for this band. CTG play a pseudo-heavy down-tuned, sludgy, stoner metal rock vibe like Down and all those Phil bands. Not much in the way of soloing or singing, lots of monotone, shouting vocals, plodding bass-lines, slow to mid-tempo songs and so on. To my ears it just all sinks into the swampy quagmire of mediocrity, dull almost bordering on boring.
One track stood far above the rest, ‘Southern Oak”. If they band kept writing songs in this style they would be far more interesting to me. The song has a very decent little solo in the beginning and switches gears at the four and a half minute mark and drops into an Entombed style death ‘n’ roll sound which is great! The vocals are still tainted with the Phil shout but overall show that Greg Cavanagh has some good potential in his voice. Such is the legacy of Phil, inspiring a whole generation of young guys (like Greg it seems) with natural talent to forsake it for the uninspired attempts at aggression (yelling instead of actually singing ) which fall flat most times. This one song alone salvages this disc for me. ‘Crown of Thorns’ has a good, albeit repetitive, chorus and has a bit more pep but ‘Just Cause’ is just a waste of space achieving neither excitement or passion.
This review may be a tad harsh perhaps but I make no excuses for liking my metal hard, fast with powerful vocals with range and emotion, blazing solos and riff upon riff upon riff. To my ears these guys just don’t play that style. Like I said not at all bad, just not to my taste. I like them just enough to look forward to seeing them live later this month so I’ll be very interested to see how these adequate tunes come across live. In the meantime you can check out http://www.cradletograve.ca.