Cruz De Hierro - Cruz De Hierro

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4351.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:53:00

Cruz De Hierro, who hail from Mexico, feature Cast's drummer Antonio Bringas Caire. Cruz De Hierro have a metallic edge that I found surprising, especially as this, their self-titled debut, was released on Musea. But along with that metal are some nice vocal harmonies, especially those found on "Moctezuma's Revenge" where guest vocalist Gabriel Orozco either harmonizes with himself (multi-tracked) or with an uncredited female vocalist. This track begins as if it were the Moody Blues' "Tuesday Afternoon" - never more so than after the first verse. There is that same orchestrated sound over a plucked acoustic guitar. But you'll also find crisp electric guitar solos, tinkling piano interludes, and driving percussion.

Cruz De Hierro aren't a strictly prog metal band, but they are certainly harder-edged than Cast, for example. One of their most metallic moments is on "Renaissance" which while, good sounds like your average mid-tempo metal track, mainly driven by crunchy guitars and swirling keys. Think a mix of Metallica, Rush, and Dream Theater which smooth, deep voiced vocalist - Ricardo De Luna. The theme of the song is that it's time to make music from the heart. "See, go on and follow your dreams," De Luna sings/the Bringas brothers wrote. "Open your mind and your ears/Music is art not back beats."

The album opens with "Key II: The Last Warning" which is a multi-part epic. The one vocal section made me think more than a little bit of Angra - Alejandro Carrera can hit those same high notes as Andre Matos (Angra's ex-vocalist). The track isn't just metal, as there's a section that sounds quite jazzy ... maybe more fusiony ... where guitar and drums take the lead. It closes out with the piano and the sound of ocean waves.

Some other highlights on this album are the instrumental "Benefit Of Doubt" which is, for the most part, a guitar led piece, but the keys get a few moments in the spotlight. There are passages during it when I thought of some the better-known UK neo-prog bands - it's mainly in the keys here. Oh, but there is a beautiful piano interlude here, too. This is a track that spotlights each member - Antonio's brother Ernesto Bringas Caire and Jorge Corona on guitar, Hector Naranjo on keys and piano, and Fernando Ramos on bass. This track goes so many places in it's nearly seven minutes, one can't say it's merely one thing or another - one can say that it is truly dynamic and consistently interesting.

"A Place In Heaven" goes in a different direction than the previous two. It begins with acoustic guitar (which sounds eerily like the opening notes to Marillion's "Easter") and (again) the rich tones of De Luna. There is a hint of familiarity to this song...builds in the same way many an AOR tune does. In fact, don't let this put you off, but I thought of that hit that Sheriff had a few years back..."When I'm With You," I think it was called. This isn't exactly like that, but there is a similar feel - it's a ballad that has the guitar solo bridge. Perhaps not progressive, but it is one of the album's many highlights.

"Sounds Of Earth," is an instrumental imagination of what would happen should the Voyager spacecraft make contact. Actual sound bites from the recording sent aboard Voyager were used. The musical arrangement is quite varied - rock and pastoral, places where there Eastern-styled passages, places that sound almost Celtic, brief bits of tango...quite vivid.

Perhaps unintentional, but "Leaves By The Road" takes a couple of pages from David Lanz' "Leaves On The Seine." While the latter is completely a solo piano piece, this "Leaves" only intros the track that way, as after the first half-minute or so, guitar comes in sounding like vintage Steve Rothery...but again, only a few notes. Orozco and Jesus Rivera provide vocals here...the deep vocals are low in the mix, almost getting lost - a bit muddied. This is mainly a mid-tempo rocker but seems lackluster compared to the rest of the album, which is disappointing as there are some very nice musical ideas on this track that need just a little more snap to them.

ELP gets a nod with the meaty intro to "Chameleon 177" - yes it's that heavy sound of abused keys that Emerson used to great effect on Tarkus. Add in crunchy guitars a la the best metal bands, powerful guitars, energetic bass... well, just when you think you've got it sussed, this track changes its colours just like, well...just like a chameleon. This might be described as a metallic jazz fusion rock meal. Tasty.

This is a very strong debut by Cruz De Hierro, where they take familiar sonic territory into some new directions. I can only imagine where they'll take a follow up.

Key II: The Last Warning (10:24) A) Paroxitan B) Evidences C)The Sentence D) Back To Reality / Moctezuma's Revenge (5:15) / Benefit Of The Doubt (6:52) / A Place In Heaven (4:48) / Renaissanse (6:40) / Sounds Of Earth (6:56) / The Guardian Of The Flame (4:52) / Leaves By The Road (6:13) / Chameleon 177 (4:53)

Antonio Bringas Caire - acoustic and electric drums and percussion
Ernesto Bringas Caire - electric 7 acoustic guitars
Jorge Corona - electric and acoustic guitars
Hector Naranjo - electronic keyboards, piano
Fernando Ramos - bass guitars, double bass, backing vocals
Alejandro Carrera - vocals (1, 7)
Ricardo De Luna - vocals (4, 5)
Gabriel Orozco - vocals (2, 7, 8)
Jesus Rivera - vocals (1, 7)
Vera - backing vocals (4)

Cruz De Hierro (2000)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin MX

Added: October 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1630
Language: english


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