I'll admit I have some prejudice regarding Russian bands, hardly ever reviewing them. One, often they don't sing in English, which is fine for their native constituents and fans. But for the rest of the world? No so much. Additionally, there's the authoritarian, freedom crushing, Communist political ideology. Belarus, a sovereign state and home to heavy metal band Ivory, is one of the worst examples of the latter. Having the same dictator for better than 20 years, his government crushes most dissent. Alternatively, I've heard that as long as you don't criticize the State, you can do most anything. What's up with that? Okay. So I've made my political statement. What's that got to do with a music review? Good point. Moving on.
Formed in 2008 by singer Sergei Butovsky and keyboard player Dmitry Chernyshevski the band has transformed from a hard rock and prog band to a symphonic melodic heavy metal band. Think along the lines of Epica, Rhapsody Of Fire, and others. Southern Cross is their debut album, recorded in both Russian and English. It involves a conceptual theme, in a trilogy, regarding Robert Scott's expedition Terra Nova (1910-1913) to the South pole which had disastrous results.
For the music, as advertised, Ivory plays symphonic heavy metal. The foundation in classic melodic heavy metal is self-evident. Then Ivory adds layers of lush keyboard orchestration to the twin guitar riffage and, at times, the brisk pace of power metal. The keyboards also have the additional role of adding embellishing solos, sharing the stage with a generous amount of guitar solos. Actually, one of the finer points the songs is how the guitars kindle and drive the melody, as within Creator, Passing Days, and February. Vocalist Sergei Butovsky sings clean with melody with a near operatic timbre, but I found him difficult to understand, even in the more milder songs. The dilemma his voice created was that I wasn't sure if he was singing in English or Russian. The former not being his native language may account for some of the lack of understanding. Nevertheless, by example, a good point of vocal clarity comes at the midpoint of Warrior's Story (and their other examples).
Wrap all these things up and with Southern Cross Ivory has successfully created some interesting and entertaining symphonic and melodic heavy power metal. Is it all that new or novel? Not really. (The aforementioned band need not worry about any aggressive competition.) But their music is both creative and well-crafted, and worthy of your interest. Recommended.
With Southern Cross Ivory has successfully created some interesting and entertaining symphonic and melodic heavy power metal. Is it all that new or novel? Not really. But their music is both creative and well-crafted, and worthy of your interest. Recommended.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]