Rattle The Cage

rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. Now And Forever
02. Wolves At The Door
03. Cry Out Loud
04. Rattle The Cage
05. Can't Slow Down
06. Metal Highways
07. Hell Or High Water
08. Play It Loud
09. Shockwave
10. Hearts Of Steel

As he approaches his 77th birthday, David "Rock" Feinstein has no intention of growing old gracefully or quietly. THE RODS have been a low-key but undeniable presence in metal since 1980, and while the New Yorkers have never scored major commercial success, their music has always been thrillingly direct and unpretentious. Direct descendants of the greats (Feinstein famously played with cousin RONNIE JAMES DIO in ELF),  THE RODS play hard-as-nails heavy metal with a rock 'n' roll soul, and "Rattle The Cage" is another dose of the invigorating same.

The first thing that hits is the forceful, driving clarity of the production. THE RODS sound phenomenal on opener "Now And Forever", with its Hammond organ drones and stripped down, brutal riffing. Rarely inclined to overcomplicate matters, they continue to draw a line between early '70s hard rock and the hammering grandeur of MANOWAR, with big melodies, classy lead work and a rhythmic undercarriage that refuses to take foot from accelerator.

In a sense, this is defiantly old-fashioned stuff that hugs cliches close and gives not one fuck about meddling with a winning formula. In another, this is as bold and bombastic as any power metal record in recent memory. "Wolves At The Door" cranks up the drama, sounding not unlike GRAND MAGUS with bonus URIAH HEEP harmonies; a slightly doomier vibe suiting Feinstein's weather-beaten vocals to a tee. "Cry Out Loud" is an unapologetic, overwrought epic, with a stately "Heaven And Hell" gait, a misty-eyed hymn of a chorus, and stirring lyrics about fighting for freedom and justice. The title track is a blistered nugget of snotty, New York street rock, with an infectious if prosaic central refrain, while "Can't Slow Down" rumbles in on a big, retooled LED ZEP riff, as THE RODS give the blues the kicking of a lifetime, with veteran drummer Carl Canedy and bassist Freddy Villano grooving with distinction under Feinstein's slick histrionics.

Elsewhere, "Metal Highways" rides the speed metal subway train to glory, "Hell Or High Water" casually repurposes the main riff from RAINBOW's "Man On A Silver Mountain" and builds a righteous hard rock anthem out of it, and "Play It Loud" is four minutes of heartfelt old-school metal worship, delivered with admirable amounts of punky energy. The fast and furious "Shockwave" and the similarly impatient "Hearts Of Steel" complete the set, confirming that THE RODS are playing with as much fire and passion as they did back in the venerable, cobwebbed day. Legends never die, they just play harder.

Author: Dom Lawson
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