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Red Cain - "Red Cain" (CD/EP)

Red Cain - "Red Cain" CD/EP cover image

"Red Cain" track listing:

1. Guillotine (6:12)
2. Dead Aeon Requiem (5:45)
3. Hiraeth (5:17)
4. Unborn (7:03)

Reviewed by on June 5, 2017

"..I'm shocked to see this is the band's first release, as “Red Cain” sounds like a polished third or fourth effort from an established band that has discovered its sound and found solid footing already."

The incredibly distinctive, impressionist style cover for this self-titled offering made our list of best heavy metal cover art from 2016, and looking back I just noticed we never actually got around to reviewing the music, which is a shame, because this was one of the year's sleeper hits. If you didn't already check out these introductory four tracks from a band hungry to make a name for itself, you should absolutely do so at the earliest opportunity.

So what's on tap here from these Canadian musicians? Traditional heavy metal comes out full force with a modern edge, a melodic twist, some serious groove, and a dash of prog rock styling. Somewhere between an EP and a full-length album, these four songs range from six to seven minutes and have that rare ability to straddle the line between making each song distinct and maintaining sound cohesion across the entire listen.

“Hiraeth” for instance starts off much more up-tempo and thrashy than the surrounding material, while “Guillotine” seamlessly meshes sci-fi sound effects with the guitar riffs. “Unborn” then starts out all mysterious and noir-inspired, like the soundtrack to a dystopian thriller where the investigation is just getting underway and a big bad discovery is coming. Along the way you'll hear rippin' guitar solos, power-metal influenced riffing, and fabulous clean vocals that have a powerful edge.

Honestly there's not too much negative to say about this release. For me the only element that seemed directly out of place was the piercing eagle cry at the end of “Hiraeth,” which may have worked in the context of the lyrical story, but doesn't seem to really match the music. The only other potential issue is with the over similarity in the vocal delivery and some of the drum patterns on the first three tracks, which aren't big enough of a deal to matter here but would probably become repetitive on a longer full-length album.

While Red Cain's self-titled EP might potentially land in the “prog metal” category, its not overly complicated, overly self-indulgent, or too soft to lose appeal with the standard metal base. The range of sounds is incredibly well crafted and mixed together, and I'd defy anyone to list a band that sounds exactly like this. Frankly I'm shocked to see this is the band's first release, as “Red Cain” sounds like a polished third or fourth effort from an established band that has discovered its sound and found solid footing already.

Highs: Modern metal with just enough groove, thrash, and prog to be distinct and constantly interesting

Lows: Not too much - vocal delivery is verly similar in several of the songs, and that's about it

Bottom line: Red Cain is on to a seriously winning genre formula here that makes me want to hear much, much more

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)