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Released: 2009, StormSpell Records
Imagine if Anvil and Iron Maiden were united in some (un)holy arcane ritual designed to merge the spirits of both bands. It would be an Ancient Cross. And the result would be the debut album ANCINET CROSS by the band of the same name.
Formed in Texas back the 90’s the band didn’t do too much until they issued their independent debut in 2006. No one noticed except the keen-eared people at Stormspell Records. A few years later the album gets the deluxe reissue treatment with all new (and better) cover art along with a twelve page glossy, full colour booklet with lyrics and photos and so on. The band (or label) integrated the bands original logo and cover into the new improved cover art, which is a clever move.
In terms of music, the Maiden/Anvil comparison is apt for the 44-minute record. The songs churn along with rumbling power, with classic Metal arrangements. They are not quite as fluid and dynamic as Maiden but not as simple and rivet-headed like anvil. They take the best of both worlds (to my ears anyway) and blend the styles into a very enjoyable listening experience. The vocals of Michael Lance are great, rough but loaded with power. He stays more in a midrange but can deliver some really good performances, as heard on one of my favourite songs, ‘Breakdown’. Maybe his vocals are reminiscent of Lips at times, making me draw that comparison, but overall he has a much broader range than Lips' shouted style.
The band employs a bit of subtlety as well, with a bit of acoustic guitar and some slower parts. A slower song, (but not a ballad!) ‘The Hourglass’ really works, almost slowing down into an Solitude Aeturnus vibe with some nice European Power/doom flair. The individual performances of the quartet are all very strong, it is obvious these guys worship at the altar of 80’s steel. The album flows nicely and although the songs mostly run in the six to seven minute range they keep your attention. The album ends on a strong note with the punchy cut, ‘Forsaken’.
I’m not sure the band is still active or not, I certainly hope so because they showed enormous promise, even if they were playing in a classic style. Even if ANCIENT CROSS is the only thing they ever do it is worth checking out for fans of classic US Power Metal.
Editors note: Even though we at Metal-Rules.com try to avoid reviewing the same albums over and over, I made the prime mistake of not checking our own database BEFORE writing this review. Of course I discovered later that there are already two reviews of this album in our database. Instead of just deleting it, I thought I'd add mine to the pile! Lesson learned...always double-check!
1. The Queen Is Dead
2. Teach the Child
3. Candle Fades
4. Gates of Hell
6. The Hourglass
7. In Dreams
Michael Lance Vocals
Mike Rodriguez Guitars
Joe Esquivel Guitars
Benny Barrera Bass
Miguel Morales Drums
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