Distinguishing between musical genres these days can be tougher than sitting through an entire Scorpions tribute album. Progressive rock rams into neoclassical metal, and power metal melds into AOR. After spinning the first few tracks on The Cage 2 — a sequel to the self-titled debut by The Cage, featuring Italian guitarist Dario Mollo and ex-Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin — it becomes clear that this disc doesn’t fall neatly into any one category.
Take “Terra Toria,” the bluesy but vicious opening track that rumbles like distant thunder before an aggressive chorus comes from nowhere to grab you by the nuts. Then there’s the keyboard-heavy “Overload,” which sounds like it could have appeared on Whitesnake’s 1987 eponymous smash. This is followed by the bizarre “Life Love and Everything,” which features distorted vocals with AOR-style background vocals, and “Balance of Power,” an all-out power-metal anthem. Other tracks — “Wind of Change,” “Theater of Dreams,” “Guardian Angel” and “Poison Roses,” among them — blend the stronger elements of those first four songs to best represent Mollo and Martin’s hybrid sound. Martin even throws in some Italian lyrics on the rousing “Amore Silenzioso.”
Bass player Tony Franklin (Lana Lane, Blue Murder, The Firm) joins Mollo and Martin on The Cage 2. So do drummer Roberto Gualdi and keyboard player Dario Patti, both of whom also played on Mollo’s overrated 2000 Voodoo Hill project with overrated singer Glenn Hughes. These 12 songs are better than the tracks on that album, but does the world really need another cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused”?