The Sign of the Southern Cross - ... Of Mountains and Moonshine
Season Of Mist
Southern Metal
13 songs (68'21")
Release year: 2009
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Alex

When you read that the band’s name is The Sign of the Southern Cross, you have all rights to believe that Ronnie James Dio’s masterpiece with Black Sabbath somehow figures into the picture. Yet, after you read that the title of the album is … Of Mountains and Moonshine and the CD you just pulled out of the box has the Confederate Flag design on it, you know this one is going to be about a different South, specifically the South of the US of A.

Asheville, North Carolina. My numerous travels through the South never quite took me there, but I have been close enough to that area to understand the spirit emanating from that corner of Appalachia called Blue Ridge Mountains, not to mention I used to have a couple of friends calling that place home. The Sign of the Southern Cross embody that spirit and with the Dixie melody of the short opening title track declare firmly that the action is going to take place well south of the Mason-Dixon Line. From there on out the band proceeds to deliver the Southern rock/metal full on thick contagious riffs rolling in the downtuned deep-fried transfat-filled bottom. The Sign of the Southern Cross wants to pick up the banner released by Pantera, but I hear more of Black Label Society mixed with the New Orleans Crowbar and Eyehategod in … Of Mountains and Moonshine. This slab has so much swampy feeling that NOLA references are unavoidable. Some songs combine a bit of thrash with the modern on-point heavy slamming (Unwelcome in that House), and there are questionable almost rapping references in the first half of Appointed Reaper, but most of the time this platter is served chunky, steaming and not-so-fast, so the downtuned pounding can find the time to revel in slicing bluesy solos (The South is Rising).

Having shown the softer side with the acoustic strum of Weeping Willow, evidencing that the most hardened Highlander-descendent Southerner can cry, The Sign of the Southern Cross feels obligated to step up the ugly heaviness with Hog Callin’ (don’t play this one to the Arkansas fans). However, I took more pleasure in slow sautéd The Black League dragging blues of Eating the Sun (great title!), Purge and Stitch in Time (To Save Nine). It is almost a blessing for the track sequence that these songs come towards the end, as ‘veni, vidi, vici’ this album is not. If there was a criticism addressed at the band, they sometimes don’t quite know how to wind up their songs (Scry), and with twelve long songs the album seems to never end.

Into this sweltering broiler, Seth Uldricks dumps his multifaceted vocals. One moment he is hissing like a rattlesnake, another time he is gurgling like an alligator, and there are quite a few soulful singing moments emerging from the bedlam and chaos all around him.

I’d be the first to admit that the style professed by this young power trio is not my first choice in the broad metal spectrum, so they would not be able to win me on the approach and sound alone. Still, the dedication and reverberating melodies in … Of Mountains and Moonshine cannot help but to endear the listener. This is one album which should not be interpreted without taking into the account the roots of its creators. Pansy country lovers, another breed of South residents, should be quivering in their leather boots.

Killing Songs :
The South is Rising, Eating the Sun, Unwelcome in that House, Purge
Alex quoted 76 / 100
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