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The potential is already there - 65%

kluseba, November 26th, 2012

The province of Quebec is rather known for its elevated number of atmospheric and often folk driven black metal bands as well as for its brilliant and quite technical extreme metal groups. There is only a very small power metal scene in the province and one of the most popular bands of that genre is without a doubt Southern Cross from Quebec City. The band is still a lot heavier than many European bands and features some thrash influenced riffs here and there. On the other side, the band has a very strong progressive touch that is especially driven by keyboard sounds and quite technical guitar solos. That's why the opener "You Shall Be Damned" sounds like a somewhat surprising mixture of Ayreon and Metallica.

This all sounds extremely promising and the band would in fact later release very stong records but this album here still fails to convince. This is due to some overlong progressive passages as in "Never Dare Say" and in general due to a rather repetitive song writing. A good example is the overlong album closer and title song "Rise Above" that employs the same kind of more or less gripping guitar riff over ten minutes. Concerning the sound, the vocals are a little bit too dominant and even though they try to be as variable as possible, they are far from technical perfection. One can clearly observe this is in the ballad or interlude "The World Was Just A Dream". While the instrumental parts manage to create a certain degree of a magic atmosphere, the vocals don't hit the notes perfectly and sound too forced.

In the end, the band's first full length record has too many small flaws to really convince. On the other side, it already shows the big potential of this band in form of a progressive song writing and some gripping and heavy riffs here and there. Fans of the band should call this their own but the but anybody else could skip this release and concentrate on the outstanding follow-up "Down Below".