When I first put in Badlands by Cage The Gods I was immediately blown away by how good it was. With a solid bluesy rock sound, sort of like an edgier, darker Black Crowes/Tesla dipped in a little of the sleaze that is LA Guns. I was thoroughly surprised to see that they were from England as I would have guessed the southeastern US based on the first listen (and several listens after), and while there is some familiarity in their sound, every song on this album is a solid rock and roll song with a lot of originality, or maybe they just took what came before and perfected it.
Featuring Peter Comerford on vocals, Jam on guitars, Mitch Witham on bass and Colin Jones on drums, these guys are living up to the traditions of excellent rock to come from the UK that bands such as Led Zeppelin laid the groundwork for.
“Sacrifice” is the first song that really stood out to me and the one that really got the groove and attitude of this album going full speed. This song seems to have been written to show the talent of every member of the band. Beginning with just vocals and soothing guitar strums, which provides a nice teaser of the upcoming chorus and additionally gives it a southern rock flair, the song then does a 180 as the drumbeat comes in hard and gets in sync with the guitar as it goes electric. This is one of those songs that you play beginning to end and sometimes hit the back button to listen to it again.
“Promises, Falling,” “One More Taste,” “Favourite Sin,” “The Ending,” “Badlands,” “A Thousand Times” and “Trouble Reigns” are all straight forward heavy rock. “What’s Left Of Me” provides a break to Cage The Gods rock assault with a beautifully done ballad, and by beautifully done I mean not wimpy in it’s delivery as so many rock ballads are.
A song titled “Bruce Willis.” Let’s face it, it you are going to name a song after any member of Hollywood’s Kings of Badassedness, then the song had better be bad ass as well. For example, “James Dean” by The Eagles or “Clint Eastwood” by the Gorillaz, while not my favorite type of music, the song has plenty of bad-ass attitude. With a solid blues riff, complete with harmonica, “Bruce Willis” has plenty of foot-to-ass attitude and is another fine example of a song worthy of its namesake. Whether or not the song is actually about him, you could fully see him sarcastically spouting off the lyrics in one of his action flicks, “I awake every morning with a feeling I’m getting too old for this shit” and “somebody’s got a problem, they’re gonna learn to leave me be”, all sung with a grittier tone than other songs on the album. This is the kind of song Mr. Willis should have been doing when he attempted a singing career, and in fact, would be a fantastic collaboration for a video or live performance. Bruce, if you are reading this, respect yourself (yeah, some of you will get that), give these guys a call and make it happen.
Finishing off the album is an acoustic version of “Sacrifice” that is quite possibly better than the electric version. I think Comerfords vocals are much better on this version. With the higher registers that Peter hits I am reminded of Myles Kennedy. Honestly, if you have listened to Myles on Apocalyptic Love (Slash) or Fortress (Alter Bridge), you will have a good idea of what the vocals on this album are like. Seriously, Peter can give Myles a run for his money in the vocal category, something I never thought I’d hear someone do. The strong acoustic playing on this version, coupled with Comerfords voice, truly make this song a completely different entity from the earlier version.
Overall this is a phenomenal album, an album that has both bark and bite, and this band is one that truly has the ability to become one of those huge bands, and quite frankly, I think they could even pull off a song titled Samuel L Jackson!