French power metallers Lorraine Cross clearly have their hearts in the right place; that much is evident from the three or four tracks on Army of Shadows that are truly first class. Indeed an EP of just those tracks would have been something to really salivate over, whereas unfortunately a full length album exposes an overall paucity of ideas which renders purchase of the album absolutely inessential.

This is a shame, because on full-throttle tracks like Target Locked and Stray Rocket (and, to a lesser extent the title track and Black Infantry) Lorraine Cross exhibit a firm grasp of what makes this sort of music so exciting. Guitarists DK and Florent both clearly know their way around an axe, it’s just that, too often they try and exhibit that precocity a little too much, usually to the detriment of song quality.

To put it bluntly, sometimes Lorraine Cross don’t know when enough is enough. Some songs have so many riff ideas shoehorned into them (One Bullet for Me in particular will have your head spinning) that it’s impossible for the ear to latch on to anything, much less a hook or something to snag the attention. Consequently songs skitter by without properly arresting the attention; Even in power metal less is sometimes more – I’d certainly rather listen to one great riff in a song rather than eight or nine adequate ones.

Still, it’s not all scattershot try hard buffoonery. Target Locked is absolutely Grade ‘A’ Euro metal, it’s dramatic opening presaging a jagged, edgy – and yes, comparatively simple – slice of metallic malevolence, powered by some great drumming from Thomas and a sneering vocal delivery from Tony, who is at home more on this song than any other in the collection. Stray Rocket backs this up perfectly, once again featuring a scorching intro with some nicely melodic riffage and fluid, take-no-prisoners soloing. I’m not usually a fan of instrumentals on albums – but this is one of the good ones.

A bit hit and miss then, but there is certainly enough evidence here to suggest that Lorraine Cross might be worth persevering with, as when they get things right they are more than capable of making some very pleasant heavy metal waves.