Lorraine Cross - 'Army Of Shadows'

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Lorraine Cross - 'Army Of Shadows'

A very promising start for Lorraine Cross and a must for every old-school Metal fan.

In the present climate of increasing numbers of studio-only acts, many of them never to be brought to the live stage, that old rule of the music industry – the one that favoured live performance over studio work – somewhat falls into oblivion. There are, thankfully, still many exceptions to this current trend. One such example is the French Metal ensemble Lorraine Cross, who earned their chops the old fashioned way on live stages across France before entering the recording studio. 'Army Of Shadows' is the title of their first release, recorded under the auspices of the French musician and producer François Merle (Manigance).

Seconds into '...Shadows' and one thing is certain – there's no beating around the bush here. The opening piece 'Sharpshooter' captures all that LC is about music-wise in less than seven minutes of a furious, guitar-driven gallop. Further on, the band draws as heavily from Power Metal ('One Bullet For Me', 'Hard To Get Out') as from NWOBHM with all its rough, primal charm ('Target Locked', 'The Slab Was Trapped', 'Go To Hell').

There are many strong moments throughout the album, from the fast-paced instrumental 'Stray Rocket' to the varied pace of 'Don't Waste Your Energy'. A fine piece of Metal balladry entitled 'Die In Your Arms' comes in-between, embroidered with a wailing guitar solo and acoustic passages. However, there's still more to '...Shadows' than just a collection of songs strongly embedded in NWOBHM and the Speed/Power Metal tradition. From the band name and the emblem on the album cover to the album's lyrical content, LC reflects upon the history of their homeland, particularly the hardship of the Second World War era. And even though the revival of historical themes might not have been the most original subject matter in Rock and Metal music – and certainly not invented by LC themselves – their cultivated remembrance of one of the worst periods in world history surely goes beyond the cliché.

'Army Of Shadows' would have been a valuable addition to any band's catalogue but, for a debut album, it turns out to be a particularly solid one. It brings out the rough, vintage sound of mid-eighties Metal as well as proving that one doesn't need to employ fictional characters and events to tell compelling stories of war, bravery and resistance. A very promising start for Lorraine Cross and a must for every old-school Metal fan.

Alexandra Mrozowska

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