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Outstanding Sophisticated True Metal - 96%

Zod, October 20th, 2006

Cauldron Born are a highly underrated traditional metal band. They are firmly rooted in the traditional metal scene of bands like Manowar, Iron Maiden, Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Mercyful Fate but managed to create their own unique style. Their debut album "Born of the Cauldron" was released in 1997 by Underground Symphony.

Each of the musicians is highly skilled. The guitar riffs on this album are far more developed and interesting than just about any other power metal band. The riffs are melodic but sophisticated, many times during a riff jumping up an octave to do a melodic run, reminding one of bands like Watchtower or Coroner at times. At other times the guitar riffs will feature arpeggiated chords that the bass accompanies. There are also some odd time signatures utilized here and there to keep things interesting. It's sophisticated parts like these during the rhythms of the songs that are a big factor in what gives Cauldron Born their unqiue sound. The vocalist Danny White is excellent, utilizing a high-ptiched vocal style perhaps a bit like Geoff Tate or Rob Halford. In particular, the vocal melody at the end of "The Final Incantation / In the Dreaming City" is really outstanding. The bass is unusually dominant for this type of music and he has a lot of great melodic runs. The guitar solos are well-done but not overly technical so as to lose the focus of the song.

The production sounds great and each instrument gets enough room in the mix to shine. The overall sound is very warm and pleasant to listen to. Lyrically, the album explores a lot of sword and sorcery/fantasy topics based on Robert E. Howard stories. "Imprisoned with the Pharohs" features some nice Egyptian-sounding guitar riffs that accentuate the theme of the lyrics. The final track, "Unholy Sanctuary", begins with a funeral-like dirge riff that recalls Candlemass and perfectly suits the lyrical story dealing with zombies rising from their graves and a band of people seeking refuge from their attack in a church.

I subtracted a few points over a few minor issues. First of all, let me be clear that I don't believe any album is perfect. I believe there is always room for improvement for musicians to strive for. My rating reflects that belief. There are times when the complexity of the piece sometimes seems to overshadow the intent of the song and I think some of the songs could benefit from a tighter arrangement (particularly "The Sword's Lament" and "Born of the Cauldron"). Keep in mind though, that I consider this critcism to be very minor considering the number of things "Born of the Cauldron" has done well and I consider this album to be a gem of underground metal.

Unfortunately, "Born of the Cauldron" is very, very hard to find and if you do find it expect to pay quite a bit for it. I hope that at some point it will be reissued because it is one of the very best traditional metal albums of the 90s.