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Album Review: Sage The Renegade – The Banality of Evil

As a musical artist myself, I try to always find the meaning behind why a song was written or what story is trying to be told to the listener. While listening to local band Sage The Renegade and their new album The Banality of Evil, I had a good sense of what the bands message was and was excited to hear each song in its entirety. Throughout the album, Sage The Renegade does an amazing job in providing great storytelling, not only through their lyrics, but through straight instrumentation as well.

“We hope to provide a platform for listeners to feel empowered, enraged, grief, and inspired by,” said Cehualli "MC Shadow" Rodriguez, MC and writer for the group. “Our music isn't just some fun songs we put together, but stories of experiences that we have either lived or have been witness to. Our band was founded by activists and we want to provide music for folks to play at protest. Our intention is to challenge the status quo and the systems that be that continuously oppressed people of color, of different identities and the working class. We hope our music can be a form of expression for others feeling the same grief and drive for justice.”

As the band’s first album, The Banality of Evil, has a unique style, one that isn’t heard often in the local music scene.

“We call it our "project" album, as it is our first, but also because we took a lot of risk most other acts wouldn't take. We were fearful of not committing to just one "genre" as much as what we thought we should, but this album has shown everyone, even ourselves, that our skillset is being multidimensional. That is something we are going to stick to, said Rodriguez. “Our bands make-up includes many different musical backgrounds and that has shown up in the albums construction. We call ourselves a rock band, but some of our songs are hip-hop esque, some are more abiotic, and some are more dance focused. We tried to focus on the flow of the sounds and words, rather than committing to one style over the other. Just like we're a hybrid of people from vastly different walks of life and experiences. Our album offers the same and will have at least one song that almost anyone might like. The stories told are personal and the unique sounds are meant to reflect that. There’s absolutely no other band with our style, make-up, & sound in the entire mid-west.”

Rodriguez wants listeners to know that not all songs need lyrics in them to get a specific point across, as The Banality of Evil showcases some tunes that are pure instrumental.

“Right now it feels often that music is very vocal heavy and is done in spite of the anatomy that makes up a song. We were careful about making sure to have the layers of instruments be as much of center-stage as the vocals. It is also common place in Hip-Hop & Latin Music to allow an instrumental start to set the mood of which the song will follow. It gives the listener time to adjust accordingly,” said Rodriguez.

As the album took 5 months to make, only 10 songs out of 15 made the final cut.

“We started working on the albums concept in October of 2021, and by late February of 2022 the album was mastered by MC Roberto, who is also a performing artist,” said Rodriguez. “We recorded this album completely in-house.”

When asked what is in store for Sage The Renegade in the near future, Rodriguez has some big plans for fans.

“We are working on a new album that we hope to release sometime in 2023. The concept of the album will continue in story-telling about injustice and the act of "decolonizing". This album is going to be bigger in length, and more in-depth, in the journey of what decolonizing is, so we expect it to take some time to flesh out. We have begun performing new songs that will be on the album and they have quickly become our fans favorite songs almost immediately,” said Rodriguez.