Sun Caged - Sun Caged
Lion Music
Progressive Metal
9 songs (59:00)
Release year: 2003
Lion Music
Reviewed by Joe
Archive review

A lot of fine tuning has gone into the creation of Sun Caged. With the break up of well respected prog metal band Lemur Voice, guitar maestro Marcel Coenen then set about creating another prog metal outfit. Along with drummer Dennis Leeflang, they recorded three demos with various members until settling on the current members and hooking up with Lion Music to record their first full length release.
With their debut album, mixed perfectly by none other than Mr.Prog himself Arjen Anthony Lucassen, being the mastermind of Star One and Ayreon, this Dutch quintet have managed to produce an album with not just excellent progressive metal, but fantastic musicianship and above all, songs that really reveal themselves fully after consecutive listens.
So what can you expect from Sun Caged? As is the case with most progressive rock/metal albums: expected the unexpected. It's never obvious which direction the song is going in, melodies, rhythms and harmonies going in every direction, solos where you don't expect them, crushing riffs to mellow passages in the blink of an eye, thus the beauty of progressive rock/metal: organised chaos.

I think the first thing I noticed with Sun Caged is that there is no self indulgent, long passages that go nowhere, no endless twiddling that some prog bands seem to employ, here we have no nonsense heavy prog metal that is something akin to Threshold. Keyboards play an integral part of Sun Caged's music but are not overly oppressive. Same goes for every instrument, no one clearly shines but like a good fruit salad, everything is mixed together to form a tasty bowl of proggy goodness. Rising star Joost Van den Broek, who has also played with Star One and Ayreon, adds a certain unconventional sound with his keyboards and adds some very cool sound effects thrown in here and there. His soloing is quite amazing and just as good as his partner in crime Coenen. Crushing riffs and solos are delivered by Coenen with such gusto, and believe me, things can get suprisingly heavy even for a prog metal album. Coenen's playing is not so much a "check me out" style that some guitarists attempt by thinking they have to play for ten minutes with a million notes a second (DragonForce anyone?) in order for a good guitar solo, Coenen gives little snippits here and there but delivered with pure grace that I guarantee will have you reaching for your air guitar in no time (or preferably real guitar if you have one).

*UPCOMING OBLIGITORY DREAM THEATER COMPARISON ALERT* Accolades must surely go to singer Andre Vuurboom, this guy can sing like no other and his vocal range is simply extraordinary. With a voice that is as different sounding to James Labrie from Dream Theater as possible, but with the same passion and ability to be wailing high pitched one minute then a soft, warm voice the next, his vocals are always the first thing noticable when listening to the songs and remains faultless through out the album. Never is there a better vocal performance than in The Eighth Day, emotional lyrics sung by an emotional voice is something that will haunt you long after the album has stopped spinning. Several vocal effects have been layered onto Vuurboom's voice but used sparingly and to good effect whilst adding something trippy but not over the top or annoying.
Not to forget the rhythm section, Leeflang and bassist Rob van der Loo do their jobs well, but as I said before, there isn't much showing off done by anyone. I really find it hard to fault the band, not a track under five minutes and nearly an hour of music but trust me, this will fly by in an instant when listening to music of this quality.

I could well just list every track as a great vocal performance complemented with music that is fantastic, technical, melodic, heavy and nearly every adjective under the sun, but the short story is that prog lovers will no doubt lap it up and prog haters, well...maybe you should try again with Sun Caged and see what happens, you might just enjoy it.

Killing Songs :
Sedation, Sun Caged, The Eighth Day, Secrets Of Flight
Joe quoted 94 / 100
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