As much as lockdown sucked for most of the world last year, it did give people time to explore things, that they may not otherwise have found time to, in usual circumstances. Case in point being Cage Fight, the ferocious new edition to the UKHC scene and brainchild of Tesseract guitarist James Monteith and long-time friend, bass player Jon Reid. Whilst in lockdown Monteith found himself writing, in his own words, “meaty” riffs that took him back to his youth, listening to bands like Stampin’ Ground and Hatebreed. Realising that they were onto something special here, the band completed by former Eths singer Rachel Aspe and drummer Nick Plews, stepped up from being simply a lockdown project, to a fully realised entity of its own and now they are ready to be unleashed on the world with their self-titled debut album.
The overriding feel of the album is fury. Fury at racial prejudice, fury at the impact that Covid has had on the world as the divisions continue, fury at racial discrimination, fury at political immorality and it comes blasting through in their words and their instruments. The mid to late nineties saw traditional hardcore merge with the harder side of metal to create a savage beast that gave hardcore another shot in the arm. Cage Fight have rechannelled that sound, bringing it kicking and screaming into 2022. The Mirror Shattered for instance sounds like Cro-Mags being played by Slayer with a bounce that Biohazard would be proud of. The vocals of Rachel Aspe are allowed to take front and centre in Hope Castrated, as she darts in between Dani Filth screams and bowel slackening Candace Kucsulain guttural roars. All good hardcore records should have a “call to arms” as it were and Cage Fight are no different. In Make A Decision, they have a roaring Hatebreed style banger, which will no doubt be sang back in their faces across the UK this summer. Being a nineties hardcore kid myself I have a particular affinity for hip hop interludes, so it was nice to see Cage Fight being dropped here to give a quick breather from the proceedings. It then picks up with the frantic riffing of Shine Don’t Fade. They have a video for this track which you can check out below. Fun fact. Rachel was discovered by the band after she posted a Black Dahlia Murder cover online, which led to her being asked to join the band, so in a full circle moment they have BDM’s vocalist Trevor Strnad on Eating Me Alive and then they wrap up the album in style with a brutal cover of Body Count’s Bitch In The Pit.
It’s an album that’s bathed in H8000, nineties nostalgia, whilst still very modern and forward thinking. Lyrically it pulls no punches and grabs current social/political issues by the throat and makes you listen. They promise a high energy show, to go with a high energy album and will be going out on tour in the UK with the likes of the Cro-Mags and Sepultura very soon. The question is can those bands keep up with Cage Fight….Chris Andrews