Review by Jack on August 17, 2002.
A funny thing occurred to me while listening to “Cardinal VII”, I honestly can’t think of another metal band that combines Gregorian chanting with big old slabs of downright heavy metal. You would have thought some of the symphonic black metal bands would have attempted it by now, but off the top of my head I can’t think of any...
At their roots Ashes to Ashes is a pure bread and butter heavy metal band, as with bigger names like Iced Earth. You remember the Metallica album “S&M” that had the symphony orchestra with all the bombastic and useless percussion, wind and brass instruments that destroyed all the old favorites? Well try to imagine if this formula was done correctly. Ashes to Ashes in a sense does the same thing but with Gregorian chanting used subtly instead of way over the top, which really adds to “Cardinal VII” rather than detracting from the hardness and smart song-writing that these guys possess.
The opening track ‘New World Obscure’ opens up with absolute heavy metal fury and killer riffing, putting anything off the last Iced Earth album to shame (except for perhaps ‘Dracula’). Yes, I really think “Cardinal VII” is that good! However, not being a one-dimensional band in any sense, Ashes to Ashes work their way through some more melodic and somber number, (see track number 7; the 13 minute ‘Sic Transit Gloria Mundi’).
On the whole this is one of the finest hunks of hunks of heavy metal I have had the joy of reviewing this year and is fully recommended to the guys and gals out there who dig the heavy metal and hard rock scenes (“Cardinal VII” is probably an album that would appeal to most metal fans, incidentally).
Bottom Line: DVS Records has come through again with another fine album. Ashes to Ashes may at this stage take credit for one of the most credible pure heavy metal albums of the year.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.2 out of 10