Yesterday saw the release of Pathfinder, the debut album from Japanese band Early Cross. Formed in 2002, the quartet – who describe their music style as ‘landscape rock’ – did not release any material until 2010 when the EP ‘Solstice’ surfaced. Over the next two years the band toured with the likes FACT and Phantasmagoria and recorded two special Christmas ”mini-albums’ before entering the studio in the summer of last year to record ‘Pathfinder’.
‘Landscape’ certainly defines the band’s music well – helped out by a stellar mixing job from Christer-André Cederberg, the album sounds massive and you cannot help but let your mind drift to faraway places and fantasy worlds. It is incredibly atmospheric and moves through many different phases, and it has an epic quality that means no track would look out of place on a Final Fantasy video game. Hymn to the Fallen, for example, moves from fast drums and big guitars to gentle acoustic interludes, whilst Cairn does exactly the opposite, building from a slow unplugged beginning through to an incredibly catchy guitar riff and dual solo. All of this is complimented by Natasha Vaichuk’s mystical and dulcet tones, who is a real strong point on the album, even if the power of the music sometimes overpowers her singing. The standout track on the album is by far the 15-minute monolith The Pilgrimage, which sees Vaichuk sing in Japanese as well as English and showcases Hiroaki Kato’s technical wizardry up and down the fretboard.
There is a lot of promise on this album, and with the explosion of fellow countrymen Crossfaith over in the UK, Early Cross look set to be the next product from East Asia to set the country alight. 8/10
Natasha Vaichuk – Lead Vocals, Keyboards
Hiroaki Kato – Guitars, Keyboards, Backup Vocals
Yugo Maeda – Bass
Yushi Soutome – Drums & Cymbals
1) Ashes & Yarrow
2) Cry Havoc
3) Hymn to the Fallen
4) In the Half Light of the Canyon
6) The Pilgrimage
7) The Fog