Cruz Del Sur
6/19/2007 - Review by: Etiam
Still have some ground to cover before they reach A-list
Antiquus - Eleutheria - 2006 - Cruz Del Sur
|Track Listing1. I-O, Captain, My Captain|
3. III-Meta Icognita
5. V-I Am Alive
6. VI-Leaves of Grass
8. KT Event
In the modern era of metal, Canada’s metal scene has become the stuff of living legend. Producing everything from Cryptopsy and Kataklysm to Quo Vadis and Neuraxis to Ion Dissonance and Beneath the Massacre (not to mention Martyr, Devin Townsend, Unexpect, or any number of Quebecois melodic black metalers along the way), our northern neighbors have made a reliable habit of putting the U.S. to shame across nearly all categories. However, for all that panoptic success, it’s rare to see a metal band coming from the territory of British Columbia—let Antiquus be the first.
Antiquus are a band of razor sharp sideburns, manly headbands, and matching black leather jackets. They are also a band that has cranked their Iron Maiden (and Queensryche, more like than not) long and loud, and appear to have taken studious notes along the way. Some have called it progressive metal, and that claim does hold some credence here, but the traditional metal vibe is the domiant factor, both in musicality and writing approach. The band’s second full-length, ‘Eleutheria’, follows quickly after their 2005 debut ‘Ramayana’, which received close to unanimously positive press from the underground.
Despite these high recommendations, Antiquus’s songs have always felt a little doggerel, and ‘Eleutheria’ was at first no exception. Though each very talented individually, the combined efforts of the band members often felt a little forced and unnatural, more memorable for their oddity rather than a particularly exemplary quality. Their production job does not help matters, either—Jesse White’s powerful vocals warp at high volume and Andrew Bak’s drums sound especially coarse. In some ways, this journeyman is attractive, but for some it may make the airbrushed features of power/Eurometal seem mature and full by comparison.
However, with enough patience, the imperfections can soon be overlooked as idiosyncrasies. King’s vocal lines are still questionable and Trevor Leonard’s and Geoff Way’s guitar harmonies may not always in perfect step, but ‘Eleutheria’s frequent variability and fresh character are worth the trade-off. What King and company may lack in continuity, they makes up for with raw potential and eagerness. Some songs, such as the album’s highlight ‘Redemption’ and the ‘Meta Icognita’ that introduces it, showcase this young band’s abilities as they blend the tasteful acoustic interlude with a beautifully paired tremolo lead and imitative vocal line.
Another characteristic of ‘Eleutheria’ that cannot be overlooked—indeed, it may leave the most lasting impression of all—is the storyline. Ostensibly, it deals with reptilian space age explorers, narrated by a captain unjustly mutinied against, whose unfortunate circumstances, explicitly detailed, result in curious discoveries with dramatic implications. This storyline sometimes takes too much of the focus and impedes a song’s ability to flow properly, the album’s slightly too-epic centerpiece ‘I Am Alive’, but it also imbues others with an uncommon sense of hope and energy, such as the aforementioned ‘Redemption’, an uplifting, sing-a-long classic that can stand confidently on its own.
Antiquus still have some ground to cover before they reach A-list status and also have yet to live up to their hype. However, considering their clear talent, focus, and the positive track record of Cruz Del Sur, this Canadian outfit may soon have the city of Vancouver being mentioned as more than just a footnote to the success of Quebec.