|Mollo/Martin - 'The Third Cage' (Frontiers Records)|
|Written by Rob Watkins|
|Thursday, 19 January 2012 04:45|
'The Third Cage' is the latest album from renowned and respected Italian guitar player/producer Dario Mollo and ex-Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin recorded in Dario's brand new studio, that apparently also comes equipped with a green screen room for video shooting.
Drawing on both musicians many years of high profile work, their many valuable hours of studio time and own individually perfected techniques 'Wicked World' kicks off 'The Third Cage' (which I'm guessing is named as such as it's the musicians third recorded project together under 'The Cage' banner) with a dabbling in what to me at least sounds like some Alice In Chains inspired riffage, mixing it up with Martin's powerful vocal approach (albeit with some strangely clipped swearing) and all encased in a big production palaver.
'Cirque Du Freak' keeps the studio dials firmly in the red, and is an impressive screaming melodic vocal performance from Martin that deserves a full volume run through on any melodic rock fan's stereo and the graceful lead guitar work of Mollo really is top billing 'Oh My Soul' meanwhile has the duo entering Tony influenced Sabbath territory, and this epic sounding piece of menacing riffage harks back to such anthems as 'Headless Cross' or 'The Shining',
A blast of rock commerciality is on offer next in the form of 'One Of The Few' a well-structured composition that would fit nicely on any AOR aficionado's C-90 compilation cassettes, kind of like mid Atlantic top down driving rock albeit it with the video done in Smethwick. More hard rock epicness follows in the hulking shape of 'Still In Love With You', with certain elements of classic Dio era Rainbow springing to mind in large doses amidst a grade A melodic vocal performance from Tony Martin and some flowing impressive harmonic six string stuff from Mr Mollo.
Sadly after such an impressive start 'Can't Stay Here' falls into the category of album filler for me with the guys attempts at trying to be funky really not working (although it may have clicked with Mollo's Voodoo Hill partner Glenn Hughes at the mic), but this track still receives a well above average rating due to the class of musicianship on offer. We're right back on form with next track 'Wardance' which as with the rest of 'The Third Cage' would make for an amazing live performance if pulled off to the level of the studio sound, the chanted chorus in particular being an effective call to arms, whilst Martin's stunning vocals once again tip a well placed nod towards Ronnie James Dio.
As the album reaches the home straight 'Don't Know What It Is About You' has a delicious vocal hook arrangement on the verse that bizarrely has me thinking what Whitesnake might sound like if Robbie Williams were their singer, this even more bizarrely sits perfectly alongside the wondrous hooky arena rock guitar intro and boasts yet another fine solo, and how Dario Mollo's name isn't spoken in the same hushed tones as Satriani, Vai etc is frankly beyond moi. 'Blind Fury'is up next and this track has its finger over the metal self destruct button opening with an intensely strong guitar riff and top notch vocal delivery that come together in a blistering choral attack complete with some neat backing vocals and thunderous drumming from Roberto Gualdi. And so to album closer 'Violet Moon', which just like on all the classic hard rock albums of the seventies and early eighties is the obligatory softer composition that sends you into the LP's run out grooves totally at peace with the world. This is the softer side of Martin's versatile tonsils in full flow and just when you think all the rocking is done the track slowly evolves into another impressive epic rock track.
'The Third Cage' then is well worth a listen for any fan of good ole classic heavy rock an' roll, it most certainly impressed the hell out of me.