ALBUM REVIEW: Cage Fight – Cage Fight

Cage Fight is the new project from James Monteith, guitar wizard for technical / prog metal outfit TesseracT, and is a very different sound from what he delivers in his day job. Initially featuring Jon Reid on bass and Nick Plews on drums, the three-piece produced a number of instrumental demos before drafting in the extraordinary talents of French vocalist Rachel Aspe, formally of the band Eths, after James had seen a Black Dahlia Murder cover that Rachel had posted online.

For Cage Fight, James has looked back to his youth, and taken inspiration from the hardcore and thrash bands he grew up listening to, such as Slayer, Biohazard and Hatebreed. And the band has created a real nostalgic tribute to the era, with a fresh twist provided by the distinctive harsh vocal sound that Aspe creates. And this debut album through, Candlelight Records, really does pack one hell of a punch!

The record begins by lulling the listener into a false sense of a security, with an intro of sampled vocals laid over a breezy melancholic guitar and trip-hop style beats, before exploding into life with ‘The Mirror Shattered’, which instantly shows us what the album is really all about. Monteith creates a chunky guitar hook while Aspe flips back and forth from a rasping vocal sound to a death-style growl. Next track, ‘Killer’, is Cage Fight adding a thrash element into the music, Monteith’s guitar riff stands out once again and there is a hint of Power Trip in the overall style as that blend of thrash and hardcore flows through, which continues in earnest through ‘Hope Castrated’, one of the killer cuts on the release showing the absolute power in Rachel’s vocal range.

On ‘Make A Decision’ we get the first flashy guitar lead of the record, as Monteith works his Wah pedal creating a solo Kirk Hammett would be proud of, and on ‘Guillotine’ the band strip back the music back to pure old school punk which explodes into a fierce hardcore romp with Aspe once again displaying her intense range, proving that she is one of the talented emerging vocalists in underground metal right now.

The punk theme is also channelled on the album closer ‘Bitch In The Pit’, a fitting Body Count cover with a Sex Pistols style opening riff and some heavy rock and “She came here to party, she’s ready to rock!”

Through the back half of the record the full on crossover thrash / hardcore style rolls from one cut to the next and it is not until the penultimate song ‘My Dreams’ that Cage Fight show a slightly different element to their sound. At over six minutes the track is the longest on the album by far and allows for a complex arrangement and variation in sound that creates a style I’d love to hear the band explore further. Opening with a slower tempo on the intro and guitar work, that echo’s shades of Ride The Lightening / Master Of Puppets era Metallica, it explodes when the vocals hit. The chorus provides a fist pumping moment as she spits “My dreams come apart at the seams” over a melodic proggy lead. This is an epic track for sure.

On the basis of this release overall, Cage Fight are a most welcome addition to the scene.

Buy the album here:

8 / 10