We haven't heard from France's Holy Cross, at least via a new album, in four years. But excepting the addition of a new singer, MickaŽl Champon, little has changed for this band. Their output for their second album, Place Your Bets is still traditional heavy and power metal, a bit on the thrashy side of things.
The wild card here is perhaps Champon's vocal style. He doesn't seem to know how he wants to sing from one song to the next, sometimes from one verse to the next. At times he's raspy and raw, but avoiding dirty vocals, and then singing smooth, only to go mildly screamo in another instance. Call it, at best, a depth of range or, at worst, downright maddening to the listener.
Otherwise, most of the songs consist of thrashy galloping power metal, lots of big riffage, impressive drumming, and numerous skillful guitar solos. Again, much like their previous album. Sometimes, though, Holy Cross gets their heavy metal groove on, mostly in the latter half of a song with the guitar solos flowing over the dashing drums of the rhythm section (and Champon not singing). Notable songs for this effect are Last Chance, Unleash The Cross, Bad Day, and Break Your Chains.
But the best song here is probably the last one (and not because it means the end of the album) Higher & Higher. It steers completely away from the thrashy power of the first eight songs for more accessible melodic metal with a serious hard rock groove, and Champon has a more even delivery. Arranged a bit differently it could have been a Southern hard rock song. While I seem somewhat ambivalent, I think fans of the band will find Place Your Bets a good follow up to their previous work.
While I seem somewhat ambivalent, I think fans of the band will find Place Your Bets a good follow up to their previous work.
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