Southern Cross - Rise Above

8 songs
46:54 minutes
***** ***


The cover looks like from some late Eighties thrash metal album, the band biography states that Southern Cross were initially founded as a tribute to Finnish power metal band Stratovarius. But instead of old school noise or European pomp, the Quebec based artists offer melodic power metal that is firmly rooted in American power metal (Riot, Iced Earth) with occasional nods to American progressive metal (Dream Theater). The latter can be witnessed on the ten minute long closing title track where the band closes the bridge between powerful US metal and complex prog structures, with guitar work that occasionally nods towards Iron Maiden harmonies.

Rise Above starts with the surprisingly heavy You Shall Be Damned, where the rhythm guitar reaches thrash metal brutality, and the vocals are also more aggressive than on the remaining songs. An album full of songs like this would have brought the French Canadians close to the maximum rating. The production is powerful, especially on the rhythm guitar. The vocals unfortunately sometimes suffer from lack of intensity and steal a bit of the music’s energy.

It is good to see that Southern Cross have purged themselves of most of their European influences, as they are definitely at ease in American power prog metal. As a debut, Rise Above is more than just respectable. It still lacks the ease of more routined bands, but by concentrating in the future more on their power thrash persona, and delivering a more confident vocal performance, Southern Cross will have the potential to become really exceptional.

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