Southern Cross - From Tragedy

7 songs
48:18 minutes
***** ***
(self released)


Southern Cross from Quebec City in Canada release albums on a more or less regular three year interval, and while their debut Rise Above from 2006 was still rather unpolished, the following Down Below in 2009 had already a much more marked progressive sound. The quartet consequently followed their development and surprise me on their third longplayer From Tragedy with a not only again more progressive, but this time with an apparently even more laid back sound.

But appearances can deceive occasionally, and after spending a couple of hours with the seven tracks on From Tragedy, it becomes obvious that Southern Cross have not really mellowed that much. It’s just that most of the songs start like a ballad before the musicians allow the momentum to take over. The album begins already with the astonishing ten minute long Tightrope, a song that reminds of earlier Dream Theater when the erstwhile prog metal kings still put the song over the structure. Southern Cross have come up this time with rather long songs, and never fail to ultimately enchant with their intelligently structured prog metal songs. The vocals show parallels to a young James LaBrie, the guitars have this Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) touch, and occasional burst of pathos made me think back of the good, old Savatage. Of course this doesn’t make for an exactly new sound, but the ingredients are prime quality, and the much improved songwriting ascertains that every song will leave you with something to remember it fondly.

From Tragedy has a somewhat symmetric structure, with two long tracks located at the beginning and the end, and the shorter instrumental Invisible Roads allowing for a short breathing pause. Only the concluding bonus track Violento harks back to the band’s early, somewhat more thrash oriented sound, although the opener also contains some screamed vocals. At times I would have wished for the songs not to follow each and every one this from slow-to-harder/progressive pattern, but in the end, the high quality stands out, and even though at first I was a bit surprised by the band’s new approach, I eventually feel that From Tragedy is the Franco-Canadians’ finest effort so far. Fans of early Dream Theater, Fates Warning and orchestral Savatage should definitely give this the time of their day!

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