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Review: Holy Cross - Under the Flag
Holy Cross
Under the Flag

Label: Pure Steel Records
Year released: 2009
Duration: 50:36
Tracks: 10
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: September 19, 2009
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.67/5 (73.33%) (18 Votes)

Under the Flag is the debut full-length from France's old school throwbacks, Holy Cross. Don't let the name fool you, Holy Cross are not a Christian band. The have chosen Norse mythology as their idiom even though the album cover looks more like a scene from the crusades. Go figure. Mixed metaphors aside, Holy Cross crank out some pretty good 80s-inspired tunes on Under the Flag. The sound is akin to bands like Omen, yet there are some modern influences, like Sabaton or Witchking, that are also evident.

The songs range from OK ("King in Hell," "Gates of Time") to quite good ("The Fortress of Asgard," "Hel the Damned") with none neither sticking out nor stinking up the joint. Under the Flag is a solid listen all the way through, with the possible exception of "Iron Horse." Singer Mikael Champon seems to struggle with his English on "Iron Horse" to the point where it's nearly impossible to understand the chorus, let alone the verses. On most of the other songs he does a decent job. His delivery is fairly rough, a là J. D. Kimball from Omen or Joakim Broden from Sabaton, but he can sometimes sound off key, which is distracting.

Far and away the highlights of the album are guitarists Loic Chalindar and Adrien Liborio, who co-founded Holy Cross in 2003. Not the flashiest players out there, what these two bring to the table are some absolutely killer solos infused with the sound and feel of classic Smith-Murray or Tipton-Downing work. The have completely captured the essence of the 80s twin guitar attack and it is a pleasure to hear.

Under the Flag isn't the most original Heavy Metal album and the vocals can take some getting used to, but the songs are well played and the guitar solos kick ass. That makes Under the Flag a fun listen and means I'll be looking forward to the next one from Holy Cross.

More about Holy Cross...
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