- Adam Westenberger
Crossing Rubicon- Seeing Red (Album Review)
From the day that I met Crossing Rubicon frontman Scott Wawrzyniak, I knew there was something special about him. This was a man who refused to let his dreams die and would work endlessly to achieve them. Instead of just talking about what he wanted to accomplish, he would work relentlessly to make sure that everything that he wanted would materialize into existence. The real question with the follow-up to their 2016 release No Less Than Everything is if they were able to find a direction in which to take that explosion of energy to the next level.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you took completely different animals and put them together, almost like a chimera of sorts. With the body of a goat, the head of a lion and the tail of a serpent, the chimera takes three completely unrelated animals and forms them into something out of people’s wildest dreams. The idea of the chimera perfectly reflects the feeling you get from Seeing Red. It is the mixing of many things that don’t necessarily belong together. This idea has sprouted many an era defining genre, everything from mixing rap and metal in the 90s to metal and emo in the early 2000s. The key to making these sorts of mashups work is finding a balance that transcends the ingredients, like a potion. If you get the parts correct you get a magical result, if not you end up with something altogether wicked.
As far as this album is concerned, the band fall somewhere in the middle. Mixing hard rock and classic rock has its merits, although the execution is somewhat flawed. Instead of taking pieces of both and mixing them together in a cohesive package, Seeing Red feels at times like it was created by two separate bands entirely. Tracks such as “Coldest of Wars” are very much hard rock focused leaving behind the classic rock feeling that Scott’s voice portrays in earlier tracks aside from the occasional long held high note (which are quite impressive). The band even channels early 90s grunge with “Active Aggression”, mixing rap verses with vocals that make me think of Alice in Chains, becoming one of the best tracks they have ever made and a stand out track I cannot wait to see live.
Mixed with those however are a handful of tracks that show a more unpolished side of the group. The opening track, “We Will Rise”, features a skit that quite honestly could have and should have been left on the cutting room floor. Not that it was poorly performed, but it sets a strange tone for the rest of the album. The song also features vocals from bassist Jeanne Wawrzyniak (formerly of All That Remains), which is always welcome, but unfortunately they are so over produced that you can barely tell who they came from. When her voice is allowed to be heard clearly and without the fog is when she really shines. Another standout track from the album is “Army of One” which features a very Metallica-esque intro which leads into an excellent mix of one of the bands best performances, especially Scott who finds a nice balance between his classic rock chops and his modern rock vocal styles and drummer Mike Clemente who brings some much welcome double bass to the party.
If I could sum up Seeing Red in one word it would be potential. This is obviously a very talented and determined group that want nothing more than to share their unique creation with the world. The biggest struggle that this album faces is the same one that their previous work has had. They are a ship without a rudder. While I see the potential for great things from this band, they have to find a direction and stick to it. This album sounds like three different albums stuck together with a glue stick, with all the good and bad that comes with it. The good news is that it sounds more cohesive than they have in years past, which makes me look forward to their next release. If this band can find a sound that they can carry throughout an entire album you better watch out, because they will be coming to an arena near you.
Seeing Red is available June 2nd on all major streaming platforms and available for purchase HERE. Their local CD release show was on June 2nd in Bristol, CT at Bleachers Bar and Grill.