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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: Charlotte In Cage - Times Of Anger


Charlotte In Cage is a all-female metal band from Salerno, Italy which was formed in the summer of 2015 by Marianna Forino and Susanna Angelino. With Marianna on guitar and Susanna on bass, the girls needed a drummer, which they quickly found in the person of Annalisa Barra. A flamenco dancer called Lady Mary was also added to the line-up, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, and that left the spot of vocalist open. Finding a suitable vocalist proved to be a challenge, because initial singer Stefania Scognamiglio left the band after only a few months and the collaboration between the band and her successor Antonella Della Monica was ended earlier this year due to nondisclosed differences. This however, didn’t stop the girls from releasing their maiden album later this week. It’s called Times of Anger, a title that can fit a lot of subjects nowadays, the most relevant being the girls’ personal quest to give a voice to the women who fight for their rights I assume. This of course immediately conjures the name ‘Pussy Riot’ up in my head, a similar band from Russia that pretty much had the same vision. It’s no surprise their music and the accessory riot grrrl movement have had a distinct influence on the music the girls from Charlotte In Cage play, but there’s more to this than just that. According to the ladies themselves, their music emphasizes on their different musical backgrounds, without any set limits or borders. True to this they have more or less abandoned the riot metal that is associated with the riot grrrl movement and replaced it with their own peculiar sound. Among the bands that are said to also have had influence on this self-proclaimed peculiar sound are Kittie, whose song Charlotte was the inspiration for the band’s name, Moonspell and Marilyn Manson. Considering this list and the fact the term peculiar in music is always interesting, I for one am definitely curious to hear what exactly they have cooked up. Only one way to find out…

Well, let’s cut to the chase, Charlotte In Cage actually managed to blend all these ingredients into a pretty nice recipe, in a little over 27 minutes they paint you a pretty accurate picture of what they are capable of. It quickly becomes clear the term metal has to be used a little loosely here, don’t expect raging guitars, relentless drum lines and screaming guitar solos. The riot giving the term riot metal its name is even less audible, but that by no means classifies this as weak or bad. The influence of both Kittie (the vocal style for example) and Pussy Riot is unmistakable, but their styles are definitely not copied. Kittie is more heavy, while Pussy Riot’s music is more punkish, jumpy. The girls have simply pulled the, in their eyes, best elements from the two and blended them into their music. If opener Liar is any indication of the overall quality of Times of Anger I’m up for a treat. It’s a solidly composed song with a nice flow, strong guitar and rhythm section work and clean vocals with an occasional grunt to top things off. Successor I Hate Myself is built around the same concept, though it has a much more poppy feel to it. Both songs vary in style and speed numerous times, without seriously disturbing the natural flow of the rhythm. Despite all these similarities in the basic song structure they both have different atmospheres. And that seems to be the girls’ blueprint, because I could easily type the same comment about all the songs on Times of Anger. Yours Faithfully has more aggression in it, while Dionisus has a more ominous watermark and 13 Years Old seems more ballad-like. Combined these songs pull you into a nice flow that makes this already short listening session seem even shorter. Not nice for the listener, but it in fact is a compliment of course. You wish there was more.

So concluding it’s safe to say that Charlotte In Cage mostly plays a very accessible type of metal, metal light if you will, that is marbled with subtle rock, gothic, pop and punk elements. Is it their own sound? Yes, to a certain extend it definitely is. Is it peculiar? Well, yes and no. It has some unexpected elements and overall it can be considered at least somewhat peculiar, but on the other hand it is not particularly groundbreaking. However, all this is inferior to the fact this simply is a great album to give more than a handful of spins. Great songs, great performance, in fact there’s only one small minus in my opinion, one that is fairly common among Italian bands, and that is the accent. Though overall certainly not very distinct, there’s a rare few moments the accent is such a striking presence it distracts from the music. A shame, because those few moments of distraction momentarily interrupt the otherwise, despite the serious lyrical themes, more than pleasant flow of the album. A minor nuisance to this otherwise great debut, and one you will get used to at that. Well worth your attention.

Written by Henric van Essen

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