Having recently achieved cult underground status with their recent ”Trinity” album, and having begun to nudge into the metal mainstream thanks to relentless touring,this album represents a considerable backwards step in their career.
This album, a reissue of the long deleted and unavailable debut album from 1997, shows a formative and embryonic line up of Kill II This. Placed into the correct context , the album in itself isn’t bad, its just not that good, especially when compared to the most recent 2 albums, and “Deviate”, its successor in particular. The main problem many fans, brought up on the cyber-metal stylings of the 2 most recent albums, will have is the resolute lack of this on “Another Cross II Bare”. Devoid of the electronica and keyboard work on the latter 2 albums, “Another Cross II Bare” seems spartan and II bare by comparison. It is perhaps telling that after this album, guitarist and songwriter Mark Mynett seized the reins – and sacked the rest of the band, replacing them with newer, different musicians. It isn’t that hard to see why listening to this CD: for this certainly doesn’t sound like a band ready to stand up to its challengers. By 1997, it already seemed 3 years out of date.
Musically, it comes across as a cross between Paradise Lost and Machine Head, mixing the atmospherics of PLs’ “Draconian times” with the crunchy riffs of “Burn my eyes”, and it also owes a huge debt to Pantera, through and through. The fact that the album is mixed by Colin Richardson (who did “Burn my eyes”) lends it an air it can’t escape, which is one it’d like to be like Machine Head. However, whereas the guitars on “Burn my eys” were searing and razor sharp, here they are more muted and less distinct, devoid of the melodic feedback and tonality of Machine Head. With the addition of female operatic vocals on “bleeding” and a minimal use of atmospheric keyboards, if nothing else, this album sounds at the forefront of Euro metal in 1997. Therein lies the main problem; it’s a very mid-European sounding album, and in a world where Nu-metal has taken the reins , this album seems tame and muted by comparison. The inclusion of the Deep purple cover version only makes the album seem even more Euro-metal. “Burn” is a song completely out of step with the rest of the album, and stands out like a sore thumb, and makes the album seem dated even more.
The album can be very one paced: for example “Blessed are the Blind” follows “the Wickerman”, and both sound almost identical, sharing the same tempo and at first, the gap between the tracks on the CD player seems like a stop before the next verse of the same track carries on! The limitations of the musicians also hampers the band: the bass playing is occasionally fuzzy, the drum sound is flat and uninspiring (relying on the use of ride cymbals to accentuate the snare sound, which was a neat trick in 1987, not 1997) and the thrashy repetitive vocals by Nick Arlea are often monochrome, with the right ability to grunt and sound like he’s smoking 600 a day down pat: however they often lack the melodicism required of a singer, coming across with little variation of emotion in the delivery. He’d like to Phil Anselmo, but clearly lacks the vocal talent.
In retrospect, its very easy to see why Mark Mynett started again with a completely different line up for the next album “Deviate”, which is a far more complete and rounded album than this. Whereas “Deviate” seems to get the equation of crunchy keyboards and spooky keyboards with offbeat sequencing right, this album is suffers, coming across as a work in progress before greater things, very unformed, and underdeveloped. By comparison, “Deviate” represents a quantam leap ahead of this album, and the fact that “Another Cross II Bare” is very derivative, leadeningly paced CD with just about every song at the same tempo. Rather than a good introduction to how good Kill II this have become , check out the superior cybermetallic “Deviate” or “trinity” first, then come back to this, and it’ll make more sense. For fans only, I’m afraid. Its not bad, just not that good.
4Graham Reed's Score