I got a desperately needed fix of old school metal when I was tipped off to the Cauldron show at Union Pool Sunday night. The place was packed - a welcome sign that a revival of my favorite subgenre is indeed amping up. Cauldron, a power trio from Toronto, work the Heavy Metal Parking Lot look to a T, right down to the beer shirt and dirtied up white high top sneakers that bassist/vocalist Jason Decay was wearing. Guitarist Ian Chains rocked Baphomet and a Flying V while they all had those shaggy, unteased and totally headbangable locks of the era.
Onstage it was a live slaughter of galloping riffs, pounding away with a fury that even got a mini pit going behind me. Decay and Chains had the perfectly choreographed mane-tossing together, broken up by Chains’ pretty wicked solos that were all performed crotch forward and leg up on the monitor. True to the best of the classics but pumped up with fresh blood, this was not a tongue-in-cheek affair.
Cauldron’s second full-length, Burning Fortune, is out on Earache Records February 15th, and I was psyched to grab an early copy. On record, Decay sings with some of the bite of Bruce Dickinson and Chains’ riffs can conjure Downing/Tipton alchemy, but there’s none of the soaring melodic tapestries or explosive bombast in production that characterizes classic Maiden and Priest. Instead, Cauldron take a more occult approach, creeping into the world of witches and fire with the thrash and snarl of early Metallica, beloved NWOBHM beats, and Sabbath aesthetics - even injecting a Scorpionic melody in “Miss You to Death” and a Motorhead methamphetamine bassline in “Rapid City/Unchained Assault.”
Thematically there’s much ado about the femme fatale and her dark and twisted powers of seduction and destruction and less of the straight up ‘slide it in’ bedroom banter of 80’s glam metal. “I trust in lust to keep you stranded by my side/And when you’re gone I’m only left with lies” Decay sings on "Queen of Fire." The cover art for Burning Fortune says it all, showing a dark haired temptress, glowing red eyes and spike heels on fire as she emerges from a limousine shrouded in smoke, her sharp red nails, long and demonic, gripping the doorway. The crushed beer cans against the wheel of the vehicle and the $20 dollar bill on the ground finishes off the elemental tableau of sex, beer, and cash. Cauldron’s molten brew is indeed potent and true.
While you await the new release, check out Cauldron’s most excellent video for “Chained Up In Chains” off their first record, Chained to the Night.