Pounding Metal: Cauldron Seeks Burning Fortune

By Keith Carman

We all know that heavy metal is no laughing matter.

When Toronto-based New Wave Of British Heavy Metal-influenced brigade Cauldron issued their debut full-length Chained To The Night (Earache) circa 2009 however, the world of heavy music divided into two steadfast camps regarding heavy metal hilarity.

The first party believed that with songs such as “Chained Up In Chains,” “The Striker Strikes” and “Fermenting Enchantress,” the power trio were a strange amalgam of impassioned riffs coupled with facetious lyrics. In effect, misguided individuals thought them to be taking the piss out of proto-metal’s rudimentary aspects; making fun of a genre they clearly understood and could play circles around.

Another contingent got it. These weren’t a bunch of goons putting vast amounts of blood, sweat and tears into a running gag. Cauldron were diehard metallions dedicated not only to paying homage to some of metal’s most influential years but creating a shoot of their own; a revivalist armada embracing the stark chug riffs, melodic vocals and searing solos of formative extreme music. This band lived for the time when labels such as Banzai Records were avant-garde, not highly collectible pieces of nostalgia.

It was this in-the-know assemblage that turned the tide and eventually thrust Cauldron to the forefront of their respective scene. Diffusing claims of tomfoolery, Chained To The Nite created not only a devout legion of Cauldron fans but spawned anticipation for future releases from The Great White Bangers. At that, asserting that mentality, drive and spirit once again, Cauldron—vocalist/bassist Jay Decay, guitarist Ian Chains and drummer Chris Steve—follow up Chained To The Nite with another onslaught of pummeling-yet-harmonious metal on sophomore effort Burning Fortune.

But something is clearly different here. While the music itself is still rousingly anthemic, Burning Fortune‘s nine tracks meld outright musical malice with a deeper sense of subtlety and inference as opposed to overt juvenility. Moreover, a sense of self-confidence unhindered by cockiness ensures the album’s 38-plus minutes of sordid groove feel cohesive; tighter; more aggressive and determined. Is it possible that Cauldron are refining past their previous state of tongue-in-cheekness?

“After hearing that term all these years, I still don’t know what it means but I guess we’re more serious,” admits Decay, pondering Burning Fortune‘s lyrical approach. “We’re real life. We are just fans of heavy metal that care more about the music we’re fond of than anything else. Times, change, dates (can) fuck off. In regards to the album overall, we just had more time to write this one, demo it, rehearse it as a band and to record it. All that combined with knowing what you’re going for really makes a difference, I guess.”

To that extent, as their second album proper both for band and their legendary home Earache Records, scrutiny on Burning Fortune has become global. A higher profile means more prying eyes/ears picking at sore spots and anticipating whether or not these hosers will be able to meet—let alone surpass—Chained To The Nite. With its unified approach and honed structure however, the sense of “sophomore jinx” around Burning Fortune is obliterated. Decay humbly chalks up the album’s prowess to a harder work ethic.

“I think we always know what we would like to accomplish but we just don’t always have the time and resources to do so,” he shrugs. “Things worked out pretty well this time around in our favour. Our drummer didn’t get sucked up by a bigger band so we had a lot of touring, rehearsing and demoing with him prior to this recording. Also, because Chained To The Nite was recorded almost a year prior to its release we had a lot of time to prepare for this record. We’re excited about this album. We’re really proud of it and I think it has a lot of potential…Hopefully everything works out and we can get this thing going. Either way, we’re left with a record I can live with.”

Understandably. Revealing an overall uniformity alluded to but not entirely present on Chained To The Nite, even Decay himself notes that Burning Fortune is a more pointed, consolidated affair.

“I think it’s really just more of the same with an extended emphasis on songwriting and musicianship,” he adds. “We know what we sound like, so our only goal has always been to write the best songs we can and get the best performances we can. Without cheating ourselves of course…no post-processing/manipulation!”

“We all know I’m a shitty singer, but I try hard,” he continues when questioned about the album’s stronger vocal drive. “We had more time in the studio this time around, (so) we didn’t have to rush the vocals as much. We also went back to an old producer from the Goat Horn days who understands us well; knows what we’re going for and we set some clear goals with him. Still, there’s aren’t any vast changes to our style or sound to me. That is up to others to decide. What I do has already been established as far as I’m concerned. My only goal beyond that is to write the best songs possible and perform them without technical manipulation.”

Speaking of manipulation, when Chained To The Nite was first issued, Decay asserted Cauldron’s modus operandi was to incite change against weak metal: false prophets selling their half-baked word as pure molten music. The band aspired to provoke longhairs to see the reality of that scene, drop it and take up with metalheads of genuine conviction. Has it been working? Will Burning Fortune advance the cause?

“Yes, I believe things have changed in our favour but its hard to say where it will go from here. All I know is that my metal seems a little less contaminated these days. If you’re going to change the formula, call it something else,” he concludes, assuring Cauldron is entirely serious when it comes to their metal. “We are sincere and passionate about what we do and I would like people to know that. A lot of people seem to preoccupied with what’s going on around them today and can’t just accept fuckin’ good music for what it is. We’re telling the truth. We’re getting old and bitter, I guess. Music first.”

Burning Fortune will be released on Earache Records on February 15th in North America. They will be doing the following dates supporting the album’s release in Canada this month:

FEB. 26 – DARTMOUTH, NS – CD HEAVEN – all ages free in-store early show (6pm)
FEB. 26 – HALIFAX, NS – GUS’ PUB (10pm)

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.