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Solar Cross - To the Ever Gleaming Pinnacle of Timeless Mastery

A lot of great black metal bands have emerged from the American scene in recent years, the most notable ones being Fellwinter, Gauntlet Ring, and Arbor. One band I've taken a profound liking to is Solar Cross. They come from New England, just like the first three bands I mentioned, and they released their first full-length album To the Ever Gleaming Pinnacle of Timeless Mastery just two years ago. The man behind this band is a mystery, but I do know that he is incredibly talented.

The production is cloudy, but still audible. It conjures up images of the Sun's light breaking through black clouds that hang high above a pitched battle. The music is an American spin on the Finnish black metal formula. The drums excel in both variety and delivery. Their performance ranges from energetic punkish rhythms to rampaging blast beats which, thanks to the production quality, sound like distant earthquakes. The elaborate cymbal work sounds like lightning repeatedly striking the barren landscape. Every pattern is arranged brilliantly.

The vocals consist of raspy howls that sound like the vengeful ghost of a long dead warrior. The cloudy reverb makes them even more spine-chilling. The guitar work is what truly makes this album grand and compelling. The chord progressions and tremolo riffs possess powerful melodies that give the music a feeling of triumphant glory. Some of these riffs, like those on "When the Last Lamps Expire", remind me of bands like Satanic Warmaster. Others are mid-paced and have a more old school quality, like those on "Hour of Perdition".

Rarely does a new black metal album genuinely impress me. This is one of those cases. To the Ever Gleaming Pinnacle of Timeless Mastery is an incredible expression of darkness and melody. Just when I think the American black metal scene is on the verge of death, bands like Solar Cross come along to prove that there's still life within it.