A band formed around three guys having beers at an European rock festival should have some promise, even success. That's how it began for Thorsten Bertermann (vocals), Torsten Landsberger (drums) and Lars Konig (guitar), who formed the Lioncage to play original music. 2015 brought Done At Last, an appropriate title after two years of recording. Now the trio, with a host of guest musicians, return with The Second Strike, now signed to the Pride & Joy label.
Simply, this new album finds Lioncage building upon, even surpassing the sound of the first, but still treading the path of classic AOR melodic rock yet with an edgier side with the West Coast vibe. The band cites the usual classic rock musical suspects as both peers and influences: Toto, Foreigner, Journey, Huey Lewis, Genesis, Yes, Paul Carrack, Chicago, among others. So, if you get that background and if you recall the first album, you know were things are heading here. Lioncage music is large on big melodies, bigger hooks, harmony in vocal and guitar parts, and plenty of rock and groove in the rhythm section. Guest artists add bass, and a flourish of keyboards to give the songs a lush feeling and, often, that touch of aforementioned West Coast breeze.
Inherently then, in this album, there's a new balance, even juxtaposition, of strength and sweetness. The strength comes for brisk and crisp guitar lines, both in riffage and leads, from Konig. These are stronger in songs like The Other Side Of The Moon, Mysterious Angel, or the fast-paced The Inner Circle. Yet in the same songs, and others like the swift Save The Day, the rhythm section informs strength with its power, giving Lioncage a bold presence. With these things in mind, some fans might find this album livelier and even "heavier" than its predecessor. Then the sweetness in the mixture begins with Bertermann's voice and vocal style which is always smooth, melodic, and unwavering. Then his voice is embellished with appropriate harmonious backing vocals. Fine examples come within Colors, Journeyman, and Mysterious Angel, with its robust vocal start.
Perhaps the most significant feature of The Second Strike is that it's better than the first album, which I found to sound both dated in style and lethargic in presentation. The Second Strike definitely has more power and punch than its predecessor, thanks to the guitar lines, which may propel the band to greater heights and more fans in the future.
Lioncage's The Second Strike definitely has more power and punch than its predecessor, which may propel the band to greater heights and more fans in the future.
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