Former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin has teamed up with Italian guitarist and producer Dario Mollo for the third installment in The Cage series of albums. The album, appropriately called The Third Cage, is the first new release from the duo since 2002. Packed with modern and punchy melodic rock in the same vein as Ozzy’s Scream and Frontiers label mates Pretty Maids, Mollo Martin’s The Third Cage should please most hard rockers.
Guitar heroes will love the playing and solo in the album’s opener and first single Wicked World, which combines attitude and melody in a powerful 1-2 punch. The slow dinosaur groove of Cirque du Freak is a moody piece that sounds like something Black Sabbath never had the balls to produce; full of power, backbone and atmosphere. Oh My Soul is a modern tribute to Led Zeppelin and features a multi-layered guitar solo sounding nothing like Jimmy Page and more like a Randy Rhodes jam.
From then on the album takes a couple twists and turns, with pop influenced rockers like One Of The Few, Wardance and Don’t Know What It Is About You, intermixed with a few hard rockers and ballads.
I really like the sound of Mollo’s guitar playing. It is modern, exciting and melodic. It kind of reminds me of Bruce Kulick’s playing on the KISS album Revenge, which is some of the finest "from the gut" guitar playing ever recorded. Mollo just rips through the guitar like there’s no tomorrow and it’s not always about the speed of the playing. It’s mostly about the attack and how the guitar speaks through the music. I’ll have to do some digging around to see what else Mollo has up his sleeve.
Tony Martin is a metal legend, having fronted Sabbath in the late 80s to mid-90s, so his voice will not be unfamiliar to most. He brings The Third Cage more variety than any Sabbath album would ever have and lets his vocals explore the music, especially on the lighter rock tunes.
Mollo Martin is a bit of fresh air in a world where melodic rock is making a comeback. The duo gives the genre a modern twist and some stellar guitar playing, for a decent album with some variety and edge.