I Carry The Fire (Season of Mist)
By Mike Delano
With an overly obvious name like The Sign of the Southern Cross, you might be expecting some serious (and seriously predictable) Sabbath love from this North Carolina quartet. But this three-song EP (to tide fans over until their second full-length) makes it clear that Pantera/Down worship is more where their heads are at. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, if you can pull it off. On the title track, they do, punching forward with some solid Reinventing the Steel-era swagger, balancing aggression with a little hip shake, even if they don’t have the collective soul to reach Down-levels of brilliance. That’s most apparent on “If You Find Yourself Looking Back,” a competent but limp ballad that comes up short in delivering America’s Volume Dealer-style satisfaction, let alone its Skynyrd-esque aspiration. “Doomswagger” swiftly takes it back to basics in fine headbanging fashion, ably piquing our curiosity to find out if this promising sound can burn bright for a whole album.