Crossing Rubicon | No Less Than Everything | Album Review March 2017
Label: Pavement Entertainment
Release Year: 2015
Genre: Progressive/Power Metal
Scotty Anarchy – Lead Vocals
Brandi Hood – Drums/Vocals
Jeanne Sagan -Bass/Vocals
Zach Lambert – Guitar/Vocals
Jesse Near – Guitar
I can remember a time in the early to middle 1980’s where some very quality heavy metal bands were coming out of the New England area of the United States. Much of the bands were coming from Connecticut area. My first introduction to bands out of this area was Liege Lord in 1983. Soon after that I would discover Steel Prophet and Obsession. But in 1984 it was legendary progressive metal Fates Warning that would really put the Connecticut/New England metal scene on the global map. These bands would all share into some success throughout the rest of the 1980’s until the Seattle bands in the Pacific Northwest would alter the musical landscape for a few years to come.
While record labels and promoters were having their honeymoon with plaid clad lumberjack Grunge whores, heavy metal would suffer for a while and music that once sold out arena’s was reduced back to the nightclub scenes it seemed to of come out of just a decade before. However as many know heavy metal is extremely resilient and has proven so in its almost 50 year history. It is so resilient in fact that those bands I mentioned would recruit another generation of bands. Crossing Rubicon would be one of those bands. Here is a brief biography from their official Crossing Rubicon Facebook Page.
Crossing Rubicon began as a two-man project involving Scotty Anarchy and Pete Ahern (Red China Blue). The band enlisted our current drummer Brandi Hood shortly thereafter. Zach Lambert came on board and the group’s second guitarist. Brandi’s long-time rhythmic accomplice Jeff Diablo joined in the spring of 2010 as the groups bassist to round out the lineup. Pete stepped away from the band in the summer of 2010. Rob Dolan (ex-Dirty Blonde, ex-Hot Mess) joined to fill the lead role through four very successful shows including opening slots for In This Moment, Nonpoint, Pop Evil, and Rev Theory. In March 2011, the groups current guitarist Matt Douglas took over as the group’s permanent lead guitarist.
Success continued as the band landed opening slots for Motley Crue, Bret Michaels, and Tantric. Bassist Jeff Miles stepped away from the band in late 2013 to be replaced by the groups current bassist, Steven Riccio. Crossing Rubicon’s music is often described as a throwback to metal of the 80’s and early 90’s, as band such as Queensryche, Alice In Chains, Metallica, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden, while having a modern rock sound.
It would be that very sound that the band would employ to forge their debut album No Less Than Everything. The band not only applies vintage heavy metal forged from the golden lineage of heavy metal but also advance the evolution of power progressive metal with very modern and relevant elements. Their music is written in such a way that it is ‘Generation Transcending’ as to not be pigeonholed to any particular generational or age demographic. They certainly have a keen and intricate sense of allow all the hallmarks of pure and true heavy metal to come through everything they write and record. Now I will proceed to do a track by track analysis and point out some highlights from every track on Crossing Rubicon’s No Less Than Everything.
Tomorrow Never Comes is a straight away guitar charged frenzy. This frenzy is backed by a very quick and precise charging rhythm section. The vocals are a hybrid of Michael Kiske meets Jon Oliva. There is almost a slight thrash metal aesthetic throughout this track. The backing vocals have some attitude behind them as well. The guitar solo’s are well balanced.
Unhinged opens up with a more tuned rhythmic section both with the bass/drum and rhythm guitar. It is a bit more distorted than the previous track however the intro serves a purpose to set up the first verse and bridge narrative. The female backing vocals add some depth to this track as well. This track just continues to build layer upon layers on heavy rhythm sections within the chord progressions.
Never Again begins with a blistering rhythmic section based around the drums. From there it is a total blister fest between chord progressions and time signatures forming some brutal passages. The heavy blast beats of the bass drums really ground and anchor this track. The guitar solo really stands out as a shred fest among this heavily rhythm based track.
The Fallen begins as a semi atmospheric ballad with a isolated guitar bass and vocal before taking off into a blistering frenzy. This track goes from more of a ballad into a anthem style track. The vocals are very warm and really play off the backbone of the rhythm section. The guitar chord progressions are a bit warmer in this song as well. The lead portion of the guitar goes into a multiple solo style progression telling almost a instrumental story narrative. The backing vocals are very spot on as well. This track ends almost like a Savatage style track.
Bittersweet Day opens up with a very groove laden rhythm section with some really intricate rhythm guitar work in perfect harmony with the bass/drum rhythm section. This track is a very gritty yet fluid track allowing the vocals to come through very crystal clear allowing the track to both breathe and tell the story of the song. The guitar solo’s remind me a lot of a Kai Hansen (Helloween era) meets Savatage’s Cris Oliva. This is one of those songs that can hold its own in any decade over the last 30 years.
Cut Deep reminds me of one of those old school hard rock tracks that may of surfaced in the late 1980’s early 1990’s. There is a certain Alice In Chains influence happening in this track with the multiple vocal harmonies. This takes nothing away from the beautiful quality of the track. I hear some KingsX and even Galactic Cowboy odd metal influence in this one. The vocals harmonies are the true highlight on Cut Deep.
Whos Gonna Save You opens up with a serious blistering rhythm section. This is beautifully followed up with some nasty yet brutal lead vocals with some blistering and brooding backing vocal harmonies. The lyrical content is spot on in harmony with the instrumental throughout the entire track. The writing was deliberately brutal on this song. Even the rhythm section and guitars are brutal with some serious teeth behind them. This is just one serious beast of a track.
Violet Carson opens up with a vocal chant like there may be a occult thing going on here. The vocal chants are layered with beautiful harmony. Soon the track takes a very dark and brutal brooding chord progression. This song really reminds me of a Mercyful Fate meets Narnia vibe in a very odd yet tasteful way. The rhythm section throughout goes in and out between a progressive and power metal time signature. Once again the guitar solos are very spot on in time and register. There is a very wicked and beautiful spoken word section in the middle of the track to help enhance the narrative of the story. The vocal chants harmonies are the true anchor on this one.
Reason To Beg opens up with a very traditional heavy metal chord progression. The rhythm section reminds me a lot of gritty sleaze rock in the vein of Dirty Looks meets Ugly Kid Joe with slight progressive power metal elements. The lyrical content is rather brutal as well.
Do We Not Bleed is one of those tracks that could of been very radio friendly in the 1980’s or early 1990’s. It is a very well written straight away heavy metal track that carries all the hallmarks of verse/bridge/chorus with a well executed guitar solo within it that is carry by a strong bass/drum rhythm section. This is a song that could also be easily adapted to video form.
Im Here is a straight up guitar and vocal oriented track. With that said it is greatly anchored by a killer rhythm section with some serious emotion within the lyrical construct. It is a very fast up tempo track that will appeal to both metal purists and progressive metal purists. The chord progressions within the guitar solos are very heavily progressive influenced along with the vocal harmonies. The vocals really hit some high points on the register.
Return To Atlantis opens up with a very unusual but welcomed ocean crashing on the shore effect. Then the track takes on a very pure progressive metal chord progression allowing the rhythm section and lyrical story to breathe while the listener digests what they are listening to. This track is really focused on the harmony between vocals and instrumental portions developing a special emotion for the audience to really absorb this. The guitar solos are arranged and executed to the point as to not take away from the obvious story narrative the band is trying to convey to their target audience.
Crossing Rubicon are definitely one of those bands that really take a little bit of influence from all eras of heavy metal and hard rock and balance them with ease. They also blend all these various forms of metal and hard rock without it sounding stale or dated. They definitely have created a sound that will not pigeonhole them into where they can play and who they can share a live bill with. It is also noted that No Less Than Everything is a ‘debut’ album. If this is a debut album I can not wait for what they will do next. They definitely have the talent and ability to created various levels to heavy metal and hard rock. For a well thought of and well written ‘debut’ I give this a 4.5/5 for the insightful effort.