|#FOR FANS OF: Symphonic Metal, Stratovarius|
Without wanting to sound too much like an sociologist, Ivory's 'Southern Cross' just wouldn't happen in Australia, I reckon. I just feel like we have a lower tolerance of cheese down here in the antipodes- or perhaps we tolerate a different kind of cheese? Anyway, it's easy to come away from this album thinking "thank god heavy metal is not a mainstream pursuit here"; it's just a shiny, overwrought nothing of a thing.
Instrumentally it's not terrible. It plods like a sauropod on valium, but you can tell there's a few parts where at least they tried. It's not a new sound or anything- Stratovarius with some occasional Dream Theatre-lite moments and maybe some Metallica meets My Little Pony when the band wants to get heavy. The keys and guitars are saccharine sweet but they play a lot of busy parts- the occasional neat bit of interplay here, a lot of cool little runs and solos all over the place. The overall impression is that while it's dripping with mature cheddar, the musicians weren't content with just being a backing track for a vocalist to wail over.
It's the vocals are the main problem. With a charismatic, powerful vocalist this would probably still be the most artificial thing since diet coke, but it would at least have a chance at being entertaining. As it stands though it's pretty gross. Devoid of power, writing not a single memorable vocal, atrocious lyrics (all of which are easily audible, just to increase the cringe), forever sounding like he's at the absolute end of his range, and possessing a very strong, very cringy accent, there is absolutely nothing going here for the poor guy. He clearly tries, but that doesn't matter- he sounds awful, he's loudly mixed and he's everywhere.
It's not a horrible album or anything, but I certainly don't like it that much and I can't see it getting any play after this review. If you can get past the vocals you've got a fairly okay, symphonic, vaguely proggy power metal album. I couldn't get past the vocals. There's far better albums in this vein- don't bother looking here. (Caspian Yurisich)
(Rockshots - 2016)