Leon : Sometimes you’ll find a band that can’t be put into a box, take a band like Opeth, for example, that combines death metal, psychedelic rock and progressive metal effortlessly. Off The Cross is also such a band, one that can’t easily be placed in a box. Progressive metal, death metal, black metal, jazz, classical, it's all there. Last year the debut album 'Divided Kingdom' was released, it was received very positively by colleague Daniël, who also remarked that there were many different styles in the music. This year the band will release a notable EP called 'Era', as there are a number of very interesting guest artists who are participating, including Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Marcella Bovio (MaYan), and Joost van Den Broek (After Forever). More than enough to get my attention!
'Era' consists of four songs, each representing a phase in anyone’s life, from self-destruction to searching for salvation. 'The Goddess' is a beautiful symphonic song that, in addition to a cello, and a thirty-five-piece (!) Choir, also shows the guest vocals of Marcela Bovio. A nice opener and shows clearly how this band is genre transcending. The next songs are certainly not worse, 'The Silence' is a bit calmer, due to the vocals of Jonas Renkse, who’s vocals balances nicely with the grunts, and the piano parts of Joost van Den Broek. The third song, 'The Mist', is supported by the vocals of Tijs Vanneste (Van Echelpoel) and contains a saxophone solo (!). Again it is very clear that the men do not want to be put in a specific box. 'The Savior' is the last song of the album and contains vocals by Matthijs Vanstaen (Lighthousing), also the choir is participating here again. Who’s heard the previous album will notice that the songs have a bit more balance between calmer and heavier work, that, to me, is a positive development. The music is played very well, the vocals are excellent, and the compositions are strong. In terms of sound there is of course nothing to complain about, if Joost van Den Broek has the production in hands, and Jens Bogren is the mastering, then you know that it's going to be okay.
It is clear to me that the men are making a serious attempt to climb to a higher level, because in addition to the guest artists, and the sound wizards, the music is also stronger than on 'Divided Kingdom'. The songs gets more space to breathe and therefore a nice dynamic, as far as I'm concerned, a nice step forward for the Belgians. I hope the band will get a lot of new fans, with a strong EP like 'Era' it is definitely earned. Recommended to anyone who doesn’t mind grunts!