Download-only, Metropolis, 2008
Battery Cage is Roland Adams, Josh Greco, Paul Savio, and Tyler Newman, who may be better known for his work alongside Da5id Din in Informatik. The band is definitively more rock oriented and accessible than many of their more straightforward synthpop cousins a bit farther down the electronic family tree. “Forever Never Ends” is the fourth full-length release from the act and it finds elements of post-punk nestled snugly beside what might be best categorized as an emotronic sound. Five new tracks, two outtakes from “A Young Person’s Guide to Heartbreak” (2006) and four remixes present angsty songs about failed relationships, unrequited love, and even a handful of uncomfortable moments of stalker-like longing.
“Tomorrow Never Ends” is a digital release. Interestingly, Newman provides some commentary on the band’s MySpace, stating that he has “made the conversion to all-digital music purchases,” while at the same time commenting that the album is “likely to be the last thing that (Battery Cage) will be releasing for some time,” attributing this to “the complete and total dissolution of the music industry and the utter lack of interest from the record buying public.” This reviewer can’t help but feel that the dissolution of the music ‘industry’ goes hand in hand with the digital music revolution. It would seem that the byproduct of a world where instant gratification is a consumer expectation is that people are willing to accept a lesser product (be that in quality or simply in hard ‘physical’ goods) if that product is available for a cheaper price and can be obtained virtually instantaneously. Newman raises an interesting dialogue about the state of the art at this point in history. Obviously, Battery Cage chose to answer the conflict with a release that is not available in CD format, and discussion of that decision by way of this review is in no way intended to be a criticism. It will be interesting to bear witness to the continuing evolution of the way by which music is distributed to the masses and whether the experiment of this digital release will prove effectual enough to merit subsequent digital-only output by Battery Cage.
Battery Cage takes its name from the constricting and often controversial apparatus that houses egg-bearing hens; the music forms an interesting polarity to the band’s namesake since it can’t be pigeonholed into any single category. While the overarching style is a fusion of electronic rock with pop stylings reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails, older Marilyn Manson, and perhaps even Linkin Park, there are a few moments of experimentalism which are especially noteworthy. The main criticism of “Forever Never Ends” is that the unilateral focus on a single lyrical subject matter becomes a bit tiresome after a while, something which, I suppose, could be viewed as intentional continuity. However, even when viewed through the lens of a concept album, a bit of subtle differentiation would have significantly raised the bar. This reviewer enjoyed the surprise of vocal-free tracks “Even Colder Inside Her” and the noisy and strange “I’m Sick of Everything” most of all because they represented opportunities to let the quality of the arrangements speak for themselves without the distraction of the single-minded lyrics. Even with that criticism, several songs are quite catchy; the title track holds a great deal of potential and I only wish the sweet sounding keys between verses had been explored a bit further. Occasionally there are throwbacks to old school EBM, courtesy of songs such as the Amnesia remix of “Do You Even Remember Me Now,” or even nods toward hip-hop in tracks like “Hustler (Street Hustlin’ Mix).”
All in all, “Forever Never Ends” is a musically diverse recording featuring some enjoyable moments, albeit its lack of focus and a scattering of influences will either enthrall or irk the listener, depending on who is wearing the headphones.
— Shannon Malik