SOLAR CROSS "Echoes of the Eternal Word"

By Dr. Abner Mality

You can count on Finland to produce quirky, unpredictable metal. The latest example is SOLAR CROSS, who contained former members of OMNIUM GATHERUM and perhaps because of that, this project is labeled as melodic death metal. I don't think I would use that description for the band as a whole, although it certainly applies to some of what's here. The album never sits still and settles into one type of is a restless piece of work that will keep you guessing.

SOLAR CROSS is the creation of the three Pikka brothers and maybe their blood ties, with a mix of unity and differences, gives the band its quirky flavor. "Januli" is a driving, melodic track that somehow sounds to me what R.E.M. would be like as a metal band, with an almost Americana type feel under the heaviness. "Bloodstreams" chugs along stridently, with odd breathing sounds, and bursts into a thrashing mid-section like early METALLICA or MEGADETH. Lauri Pikka's vocals are chameleon-like and change with every song.

"The Ever Unfolding" has touches of TYPE O NEGATIVE or even DANZIG, with monotone robotic vocals while "High God" is maybe the most overly death metal of tracks. There are small instrumentals such as "Valkoparta" or "The Wheel Turns" which you think might be throwaway but which have their own identity and which fit smoothly into the album as a whole. "Mother of Wolves" is quick and aggressive but with clean Gothic vocals and a catchy chorus while "Technophiliac Trance" is harsh and angular with vocals to match. "From Secret Source" is raging melodic death with the most guttural vocals on show, but the album ends oddly with the dreamy, acoustic driven "Golden, Crowned and Pure", which is repetitive and goes on a bit too long.

You can see what a peculiar beast "Echoes of the Eternal Word" is, but actually I just lightly touched on the idiosyncrasies to be found here. It is thinking man's metal for folks looking to avoid cookie cutter sounds.