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The Sign Of The Southern Cross - "I Carry The Fire" (Digital EP)

The Sign Of The Southern Cross - "I Carry The Fire" Digital EP cover image

"I Carry The Fire" track listing:

1. I Carry The Fire
2. If You Find Yourself Looking Back
3. Doomswagger

Reviewed by on July 9, 2011

"The Sign Of The Southern Cross marries down-home grooves and heavy metal fury in expert fashion on 'I Carry The Fire.' Pantera fans and those who like their metal on the Southern-fried side will find plenty to love here."

Whether it's Dixieland jazz, Delta blues or Western swing, the music of the American South has an unmistakable sense of groove to it. There's just a little extra wiggle in the hips and a little more of a wink-and-nudge in the vocal delivery. Why should Southern metal be any different?

Sure, on first listen, North Carolina's The Sign Of The Southern Cross seems to be treading a path blazed by Pantera, with groovy-but-impossibly-heavy guitar licks and sledgehammer drumming. It's on the second listen to the band's digital EP "I Carry The Fire" that one realizes that the band differentiates itself from the rest of the Dimebag-influenced pack by actually emphasizing the Southern blues elements, albeit in a completely metal way. No, this isn't the Allman Brothers — but they might be their even-more tattooed and rebellious offspring.

Take, for example the greasy guitar licks that singer/ax-man Seth Uldricks weaves into the opening of "Doomswagger." Or, for that matter, the way Jason Stallings' drums alternate between a slow, hip-shaker beat and whiplash-inducing headbang speed.

Of course, if you really want Southern-fried sounds, there's "If You Find Yourself Looking Back," with its Black Label Society ballad feel. Uldricks' vocals switch from Anselmo screams to something quite reminiscent of latter-day Zakk Wylde, while the acoustic and slide guitar parts have feel something like vintage Skynrd — and the excellent guitar solo that occupies most of the last two minutes is pure "Freebird" in the best sense of the word.

If the EP has one slightly weak link, it's the title track, which doesn't quite marry the Southern groove with heavy metal fury as well as "Doomswagger." That said, a middle section with cleaner vocals is a great foot-stomper.

Designed to whet the listeners' appetite for the band's forthcoming second full-length album, this EP, available for free download, does just that.

The Sign Of The Southern Cross marries down-home grooves and heavy metal fury in expert fashion on "I Carry The Fire." Pantera fans and those who like their metal on the Southern-fried side will find plenty to love here.

Highs: "If You Find Yourself Looking Back"

Lows: The title track feels a little disjointed.

Bottom line: An excellent slice of Southern-style metal.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)