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Dario Mollo Tony Martin - 'The Third Cage' (frontiers) 4.5/5

Ooo this is a good un. This is the third studio opus from sometime metal supergroup Mollo / Martin. Formed around the core duo of ex-Crossbones axpert Dario Mollo and former Black Sabbath and Forcefield vocalist Tony Martin, and also featuring some of the great and the good from the Italian metal scene such as ex Voodoo Hill drummer Roberto Gualdi and former Crossbones bassist Fulvio Gaslini, Mollo/Martin play good old school hard rocking metal in the style of Rainbow, late era Sabbath etc. And they do it very very well indeed.

I've always had a great admiration for Tony Martin as a vocalist, and its a particular bug-bear of mine that those great albums he did with Sabbath, such as Headless Cross and the magnificent Tyr are not hailed as the classics that they undoubtedly are, and are dismissed by the philistines as inferior to the product of the Ozzy and Dio era's. Still he has a great and distinctive voice, sounding like a mix between Dio and Maybe Graham Bonnet and boy can the guy belt em out, Just listen to the cut Still In Love With You (no NOT the Lizzy track of the same name) or the albums opener Wicked World and you will hear storming performances by one of the best rock vocalists of the past 30 years.

As for Mr Mollo; well I will admit I'm not all that familiar with his stuff, having not heard the past two Mollo / Martin albums and only having heard a few odd Crossfire tracks over the years. However I will say his playing on this one is impressive to say the very least. When he is riff riding he can churn them out along with the very best riff merchants of times gone by (Iommi, Brock, Tipton etc) and when he is playing his freak out lead work he has a touch of the Richie Blackmores or the Michael Schenkers about him, and thats a sure way to get this old metalhead sit up and take notice!!

However you need more than great guitar work and amazing vocals to make a good album, you need the songs as well. And thankfully I can say that 'The Third Cage' has great songs in abundance. To pick a few at random you have Wardance, a cut that wouldn't sound of of place on a classic Rainbow album such as Straight Between The Eyes, and then there's Blind Fury and Cirque Du Freak (the later being my fave cut on offer here) which revives memories of Tony Martins time in Sabbath.

OK I'll admit the sound here is rooted firmly in the 1980's, but hell there was a lot of great stuff around back then and in a musical world awash with endless formulaic metalcore wannabes and angry young thrash revivalists, a bit of expertly performed and produced old school metal makes for a welcome change once in a while.

This really is a good record, older metalheads and hard rockers will lap it up, and I recently played this to my 13 year old nephew who has just discovered the world of rock and metal, and he was raving about it, so I can see some of the more open minded younger crew getting into this as well.

Well worth a listen or six.

For fans of... Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, UFO, Crossbones etc....

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