Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

March 12, 2011

SAGE4 ~ In Vain (EP)

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Style: hard rock, heavy metal
Label: self-released
Year: 2005
Home: Chicago, Illinois

Members: Tracey Sage ~ vocals
Mike Walsh ~ guitar
Eric Ganci ~ drums
Vito Marchese ~ bass
SAGE4's In Vain limited edition EP was the stellar follow-up to their debut EP Lightning Strikes, while Graves followed as their much welcomed full-length release. The groundwork for Graves was laid with In Vain, which though but five songs received outstanding reviews unexpected for an EP & led them to touring with Anthrax, 30 Seconds To Mars, Dragonforce, Finntroll & VH1 Rock of Love winner Ambre Lake. While Graves might deserve hearty mention everything went to a new level for SAGE4 on the weight of those first five songs that would reappear on Graves alongside five new friends. Like all the great EPs In Vain aims for a short but strong impact that leaves the listener wanting more. This album will leave no listener disappointed. The album opens with "Manifest Destiny", a dynamic squeeler featuring Tracey Sages' vocals upfront & close & showing whose band this is. This is hard rock a la Joan Jett not rock opera via Tarja Tarunen, though it has shades of goth & progressive rhythm changes. Those progressive changes are highlighted in "Graves" which hints at Tool & a toned-down Dream Theater with its mix of acoustic guitars & complicated jagged chord progressions. "Backbone" goes for a double bass opening that I'm happy to say drops away to alternating bars in the chorus. I've always seen it as n effect that tends to ruin songs by dominating the rhythm & I'm glad to see a band that feels the same way about this overused effect as I do. It also causes the song to feel like it's in double-time even if it isn't, the case here, though it is used to interesting effect in the guitar solo that plays the double bass drum beat in sync which I've never heard before. "Out Of Body" repeats all that was heard before but with complicated fast rhythms not heard outside of Clutch. The EP closes with the ballady title track which opens with a two note riff accentuated with eerie violin-esque cries & acoustic plucking. It's rare to put a title-track at the end of an album, but this is such a strong track that it leaves the album on an incredibly hypnotic high note. The only fault I can find is the tone chosen for the guitar solos on a couple tracks. Light on distortion its a heavily muffled sound with little sustain that doesn't quite have the punch or sound I think the band is looking for. Technically the solos are great but I want to hear the notes cry not hide under a blanket with voices muffled in fear. Albeit, maybe they're hiding in shock because this little album is so good its unbelievable. I can only imagine how good the live show must be.

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