SUN CAGED – The Lotus Effect (2011)
The Real one, not the promo
SUN CAGED is a Dutch progressive metal band led by guitar virtuoso Marcel Coenen. This ensemble is founded back in 1999, but the band take several years between recordings as their music is really elaborated.
Following the succes of their second 2007 album ‘Artemisia’, Coenen and Co. are about to unleash their third album, entitled “The Lotus Effect”.
Quality over quantity must be the band’s collective motto, because “The Lotus Effect” has plenty of musical fireworks to offer which makes even the most demanding prog fan drool out of sheer satisfaction.
Guitarist Marcel Coenen and vocalist Paul Adrian Villarreal make quite a combination for the foundation of the band – directing the sound into a variety of directions while keeping the heart and soul of forward thinking, challenging landscapes at hand.
The most intersting thing about this band is that they don’t sound like any other prog-metal band. Of course there are similarities with some of the bigger bands in the genre, but they never sound like any of them.
Unlike their peers in Dream Theater for instance, the guys in Sun Caged know when to show restraint when a song calls for it.
It doesn’t matter how technical and over the top it gets, it still about writing a solid composition.
As is typical of progressive metal, there is plenty of genre transgression on this album which contains virtually everything from blastbeats over ballady choruses and heavy groove guitar riffage to slapping and fretless bass as well as some fusion-like and neoclassical elements.
In essence the album is divided in two sections. The first six songs makes up the first half.
The opener “Seamripper (& the Blanket Statement)” contains some grinding drumming combined with melodic elements, and there is some awesome slapping bass in “Tip-Toe The Fault-Line” and “Shades Of Hades”, while “Ashes To Ear” delivers some more classic and accessible progressive metal figures and odd time signature plus prominent keyboards and a quite melodic nature.
“Reductio As Absurdum” features a flashy extravagant neo-classical guitar solo enriched by synthesizer eruptions, while a fusion flavor flows freely for “On Again/Off Again” – the four instrumentalists giving their talents while Paul deftly weaves in the soaring, melodic vocals to give listeners the hook to pull it all together.
Part II is entitled “Ashtamangala (The 8 Auspicious Symbols)”, an epic suite separated in 7 musical pieces which, needless to say, offers many twists, turns and other interesting things.
But apart from the superbly textured “Pareidolized (The Ocean in the Shell)”, the rest of the pieces are short and dynamic, and all keeps your ears focused every second, it never gets bored or makes you desire for the end. Includes steady, sometimes heavy arrangements, with bursts of imagination within.
“The Lotus Effect” is a true progressive metal album, with many tempo-changes and varied structures, combining both modern and classic elements.
Vocals are clear and have a very melodic quality as well as an almost volatile texture but very potent at the same time, which is in an interesting contrast to the very heavy sounding guitars.
The level of musicianship is obviously very high, delivering impressive work on all instruments, and fans of guitar / keyboard / bass virtuoso-playing can look forward to some very elaborated solos.
Lyrically tackling deep topics through politics, relationships and philosophy with modern reference points, there is so much dynamic versatility within the 14 tracks that Sun Caged accomplishes so much without redundancy and with a clear sense of vision and forethought.
The production is handled by Sun Caged themselves. They’ve done an excellent job, because its powerful sound really drives the recording forward.
“The Lotus Effect” is one the best ‘real’ prog-metal albums recently released, it’s a shining example of what can be achieved when you the find the right balance between dazzling musical technique and the advanced art of songwriting.
01. Seamripper (& The Blanket Statement)
02. Tip-Toe The Fault-Line
03. Ashes To Ear
04. Shades Of Hades
05. Reductio ad Absurdum
06. On Again / Off Again
PART II ‘Ashtamangala (The 8 Auspicious Symbols)’
08. Pareidolized (The Ocean in the Shell)
10. Wave the Banner
11. Fish Afraid of Drowning
12. Moebius Knot (Instrumental)
13. Full Circle
14. Let it Wash Away (The Lotus Effect)
Paul Adrian Villarreal – Vocals
Marcel Coenen – Guitars
René Kroon – Keyboards
Daniel Kohn – Bass, Fretless
Roel van Helden – Drums
BUY IT !