RUBICON "Welcome to Wasteland"
The Russian label More Hate Productions is mainly known for releasing music from the more extreme corner of the Metal spectrum. The more I have been surprised to find “Welcome to Wasteland” while browsing through their catalogue. I have never heard of the band before and there is not a lot of information to be found in the web. The promotional text is talking about “Dark Heavy Metal” comparing Rubicon to Savatage or King Diamond. I do not really see what should be “dark” about this release but a really nice little piece of traditional Metal it is. Sitting somewhere between NWOBHM and Power Metal (drawing from the European as well as the US school) the riffs are galloping and energetic. There is no drummer listed so I am not sure if the drums are programmed or a session drummer has been part of the recording. However, in case they are programmed this might be the best drum programming job I have ever heard. There are some Hard Rock tendencies to be found as well as some of the tracks follow a simpler pattern than others. My personal favorites are the faster songs as Rubicon really have a feeling for pushing riffs and Power Metal refrains that stick with the listener. Generally speaking the songwriting is pretty impressive given the fact this is a debut album. Each track has its own character and Rubicon made sure that there is enough variation to be found. They easily weave in some slower and atmospheric passages in a few songs before putting the pedal back to the metal. The singer Ivan Bulankov has a great voice. He got some grit but not too much for my taste. His versatility allows him to deliver the slower parts with a good portion of dirt but also sing the faster and uplifting sections in a cleaner and perfectly fitting style. The production is crystal clear and punchy without sounding too modern. I also have to tip my hat to keyboard player Katerina Pobedinskaya who is adding a lot of atmosphere to the overall sound with her playing without ever being annoying. The same can be said about the guitar work. Of course such kind of music always asks for solos but there is no meaningless wankery. Overall this is nice little gem and I will make sure to follow the development of this young band.
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