To Death and Beyond…
Cruz Del Sur
5/15/2009 - Review by: Vinaya Saksena
I first popped my review copy of this album in my CD player shortly after reviewing Crystal Eyes' Dead City Dreaming, and with that enjoyable display of creative power metal fresh in my mind, my first impression of To Death and Beyond was that this was more of the same and that was definitely a good thing.
After listening to this album repeatedly, however, I soon noticed significant differences. Fist of all, this promising quintet hails from Greece, not Sweden. Second, things are a bit less perfect--or rather less perfectionist--than on that finely crafted Crystal Eyes release. Third, these guys, true to their name and album title, seem to have a preoccupation with battle themes; someone or something always seems to be doing epic battle with someone or something else in these nine tales. It takes guts (or naiveté) to kick off your album with a song over eight minutes in length for any band, let alone a relatively new one. But that's what you get with "The Wrathforce", which is actually pretty damn riveting despite its length (and cheesy, nonsensical title). For those of you who are salivating at the very thought of hearing this, the band throws in two even longer numbers later on: the rambling, ten minutes-plus "Oceans of Pain" and the more convincing album closer "Death Before Disgrace," which ends with surprising abruptness after all the fanfare.
However, all is not Manowar-ish excess here, as Battleroar also throw in some more straightforward, immediate material, the most enjoyable of which is the catchy, old-school metal anthem "Born in the 70's", though the remainder of the album is also good fun for metal fans of the Maiden/Priest/Manowar ilk. Throughout, however, it's delivered in fine, exuberant fashion definitely not as technically perfect as your average power metal release, but fairly adequate in execution. Basically, it sounds like a bunch of enthusiastic young fans who decided to pick up instruments and learn to play them in order to pay tribute to their metal forbearers. I don't know how else to put it...picture a more epically inclined Greek version of Swedish traditional metal heroes Wolf, and you're halfway there. Heck, if any of the stuff I mentioned in this review sounds decent to you, consider it worth a shot.
Note: Like Slough Feg's "Hardworlder", the digipak version of this album includes a cover of a Manilla Road tune, in this case "Morbid Tabernacle/Isle of the Dead", though I have not had the opportunity to hear it. And speaking of parallels with Slough Feg, kudos to Cruz del Sur for finding yet another band that has discovered a unique, engaging way to be retro.
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