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Crossbones’ Creed – Troublemaker Award winner

Crossbones’ Creed
by kenn staub at 03 November 2020, 5:35 PM

Because this is a heavy metal site, let me preface the review that follows by noting that, in my opinion, CROSSBONES’ CREED’s “Troublemaker” is not a heavy metal album per se. Though some of CROSSBONES’ CREED’s songs have metal elements, they cannot be readily shoehorned entirely into any particular subgenre nor does the band necessarily fully or consistently fly the metal flag. Rather, what “Troublemaker” is, from the first track to the last, is 42 minutes of truly excellent hard rock. Further, “Troublemaker” has such a southern rock, blues-tinged feel, it’s hard to believe CROSSBONES’ CREED hails from Sochi (Russia) as opposed to some locale below the United States’ Mason-Dixon Line. Influenced by the likes of LED ZEPPELIN, QUEEN, SLASH, BLACK STONE CHERRY, and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, the time since 2016 CROSSBONES’ CREED devoted to working on this, their debut album, was most definitely well spent.

After an intro featuring the growl of distorted guitar, the opening track, “Easy Rider,” has a hard, melodic groove that moves the song along. CROSSBONES’ CREED’s musical stylings on “Easy Rider” set the tone for the rest of the album; tight rhythms, solid vocals, and old-school, blues-based melodies and guitar soloing. The rhythm section comes to the fore on “Hole,” laying down a funky, bluesy groove. Unlike the solo in “Easy Rider,” which seemed more isolated and denser, the guitar breaks in “Hole” are lighter and blended into the melody or played counterpoint to it.

Where You Belong” is slower than the opening pair of tunes, conveying more of an edgy emotionality. Evgeny Poznyakov’s vocals reveal a soulful side and the guitar solo continues the theme, played with moody emotion. During the opening to “My Way” I aurally flashed on the intro to “Wild-Eyed Southern Boys” by .38 SPECIAL. A southern boogie with a call-and-response chorus and more rhythm-based guitar solo, “My Way” includes a few drum breaks that allow Konstantin Vartanov a bit of freedom. The track’s last minute is a blues excursion that breaks from the stylistic cohesion evidenced in the song’s first four minutes.

More of a tradition southern rock song, “Destination” demonstrates a lighter style than CROSSBONES’ CREED had established up to this point. The track evidences subtle tempo shifts which, like the bluesy guitar solo, are seamlessly structured into the overall texture of the track. “See You Again” caused another aural flash when I first heard it, this time to “Wanted Dead Or Alive” by BON JOVI. It begins acoustically spare but progressively builds into a bigger rock sound. Like “See You Again,” the album’s title track, “Troublemaker,” has a driving beat that enlarges over time. Interestingly, the song takes on a brief jammish quality at one point.

Most albums I review have songs which emerge as favorites. “Easy Rider” and “Hole” were early front runners for this distinction, but then I heard the eighth track, “Water Is High,” and it hooked me. Based on a chugging, funky melody the song steadily motors along, drawing the listener in with its cohesive rhythm and group harmonies (a strong feature on almost every one of “Troublemaker’s” tracks). The guitar solo is more melodically-based than an individual foray and the tune’s last minute is as if you were sitting in on a jam by the rhythm section.

Move,” the penultimate track, is the moodiest song on the album. At times spare, the song has flashes of hitting an upbeat groove, but is, for the most part, sober and anguished (particularly Poznyakov’s vocals). “When The Sun Goes Down” alternates between an uptempo guitar line with one that has a more acoustically bluesy feel, the intermixing being spot on. It also includes the most intricately notey guitar solo on the album.

Fans of guitar-based hard rock with a groove-based southern feel will find this album much to their liking. Solid from start to finish, the music is eclectic, variously showing flashes of metal but also demonstrating bursts of funkiness and blues. At all times the tunes are tight, the sound tight and full (including group harmonies), and filled with soul. Add CROSSBONES’ CREED to the growing list of bands I hope make their way to United States so I can see them live when concerts return. Until then, I’ll continue to keep “Troublemaker” in steady rotation, looking forward to the songs and stylistic elements that have already found favor, but also confident there are nuances yet to discover and enjoy.

Musicianship: 10
Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Easy Ride
2. Hole
3. Where You Belong
4. My Way
5. Destination
6. See You Again
7. Troublemaker
8. Water Is High
9. More
10. When The Sun Goes Down
Evgeny Poznyakov – Vocals/Guitar
Ed G – Guitar
Max Luganchenko – Bass
Konstantin Vartanov – Drums
Record Label: Molot/Irond


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