Crossing Rubicon – Seeing Red (Imminence Records)Thursday, 25th July 2019
Nestled in the lower left quadrant of New England, Connecticut has a healthy heavy music scene – gaining attention in the 1980’s with acts like Fates Warning, Liege Lord, and Obsession, while also making a statement for the underground hardcore/metal set through the work of Hatebreed. Since moving here, this scribe has made it a point to discover what the local musicians have to offer – and here is another noteworthy act in Crossing Rubicon. Originating as a two-man project in 2009, they’ve expanded to a five-piece and recorded a demo, EP, and previous full-length No Less Than Everything while gaining the opportunity to play with diverse hard rock/metal acts and do some independent touring. Seeing Red is the band’s second full-length – a twelve track, hour-long odyssey into the passion that the band has for 80’s/90’s heavy metal, including a mix of modern/alternative aspects to develop a dynamic, intriguing style.
What’s evident through repeated exposure to these songs is the attention to detail in all regards to keeping the melodies and hooks top of mind. It’s that extra special nuance in the choruses with multi-part harmonies from vocalist Scott Anarchy and bassist/vocalist Jeanne Wawrzyniak (plus choir supplementation with outside background vocalists), the narrative elements in certain tracks to convey the deeper storyline, the layers of guitars from clean and electric action – these activities may not hit you on the first playback, but them cement themselves deeper by the fifth, tenth and twentieth airing. It’s where Queen, Blind Guardian, and Queensrÿche come to mind for the anthem-oriented opener “We Will Rise” (love the supplementary death-like growls in the contrasting verses) or the fierce, heads down riff/drumming mechanics that drive home the street-level metallic title cut. At other points, the band’s appreciation for 90’s bands like Alice in Chains, Godsmack, or The Offspring comes up for music atmosphere or melodies – check out “Coldest of Wars” or the serene/outer universe feel of “On Wax Wings” – but there’s still exemplary finesse and tact displayed in specific bass, drum, and guitar passages to captivate the listener.
Standouts change by the day – “Army of One” contains tender guitar parts that rival classic Pink Floyd during the opening moments, only to transform into this mid-tempo, power metal arrangement with killer double kick/fill moments and a chorus that has potent Queen-like charm, while “Embrace the Pain” illustrates the heavier, kick ass side of these musicians who wish to channel their aggression in all the proper places. In fact, the only weak moment to these ears is “Active Aggression” – a more alternative effort featuring some rap-oriented verses and nu-metal squeals that probably pays homage to the past but sounds a bit out of place with the rest of these songs. Seeking out the production skills of Nicky Bellmore at Dexter’s Lab Studios ensures a powerful production that stands up well to what the bigger bands put forth, and hopefully will aid the cause in taking the band’s style and substance as worthwhile, not just another Connecticut local band.
Considering this is my first exposure to Crossing Rubicon, it’s an outstanding effort that has one foot in the 90’s grunge/alternative metal scene, but another in the 80’s melodic power/progressive angle. The diversity and passion works, and hopefully will carry their efforts internationally to a broader cross-section of heavy music fans.