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R.U.S.T.X - Center of the Universe

Center of the Universe
by Tiago Masseti at 17 December 2019, 9:46 PM

Fast-paced, nostalgic, over-the-top Hard Rock with hints of AOR and even some Progressive Rock at times. This is what R.U.S.T.X brings to the table in their fun and adventurous “Center of the Universe” album. First and foremost, when you listen to it, remember that this family is not composed of native English speakers. If you’re not picky about accent and grammar, your experience will be far more pleasant. If you like some Heavy and Progressive music for the very joy of listening to it, this is for you.

The most exciting aspects of this album are definitely the facts that the four members are a family and that all four of them sing. This creates a wide variety of vocal tones and interpretations that makes the journey really appealing. Opening track “Defendre Le Rock” has this MÖTLEY CRÜE, Glam Metal, Sunset Strip vibe that feels very outdated in a fading 2019 but very uplifting if you take into consideration that this is coming from Cyprus Island in the Mediterranean. “Running Man” is that shameless head-banging RAINBOW rip-off track that every Hard Rock band in the planet has written at some point. A clearer and more nasal vocal comes in to add to the color palette. Track number three, “Black Heart” is when things start to become surprising. A more cadenced tune with an aggressive chorus, it resembles some 80’s IRON MAIDEN and 90’s SAVATAGE. A third voice comes into the mixture with a raspy tone and a flamboyant rendition, in the lanes of the great Jon Oliva.

“I Stand to Live” starts with a beautiful 80’s synth theme and introduces the female vocalist of the Xanthou family, Katerina. Her tone sounds really good in the slower parts, resembling the amazing Lee Douglas from ANATHEMA. The entire song could have been in that lane and it would definitely have been one of the highlights of the album. It does leave you wanting more when it progresses into another MAIDENesque tune. “Endless Skies” presents a beautiful duet between Katerina and the cleaner nasal vocalist from track number two in a very AOR track with hints of RUSH and JOURNEY thrown into the bowl. Kudos to the band for creating a track list that keeps presenting new elements to the listener. Introducing all voices individually and then start combining them is something that every band with more than one singer should learn how to do.

Title track “Center of the Universe” opens with beach sounds, birds and laughter, topped with folk-harmonized voices and the raspy vocalist as lead. It flourishes into a 9-minute Prog Rock track with hints of GENESIS, RUSH and even some BEATLES and ELTON JOHN in there. Pretty cool stuff! Unexpected and definitely the most intricate song on the record. The combination of voices on this one is taken to another level and makes the song a very colorful and exciting experience. At the beginning of the album one could never guess that this band’s Progressive side would be their strongest. “Widow’s Cry” has uplifting hooks and a nice relationship between the female vocals and the raspier tone in response. The song does lose some of its brightness coming right after the title track, though. Album closer “Wake Up” is a fun Prog Rock tune that ends the experience on a high note, with great drumming and a cool guitar solo.

Varied, courageous and unexpected are all words that apply to this record. The blend between different vocalists and different genres happens in a natural way, as they’re not trying to sound like established acts but at the same time pay a carefree homage to those. It also makes it a very appealing product for its geographic origins and uniqueness. As far as production goes, they could have been more careful with the language they’re singing in because the accent and grammar do stand out every now and then, harming the experience a bit. Once that is taken into consideration, R.U.S.T.X will be a good fit to take Cyprus Island Heavy Music to world for good.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Defendre Le Rock
2. Running Man
3. Black Heart
4. I Stand to Live
5. Endless Skies
6. Center of the Universe
7. Widow’s Cry
8. Wake Up
Giorgos Xanthou - Bass, Vocals
Panagiotis Xanthou - Guitars, Vocals
Giannis Xanthou - Drums, Vocals
Katerina Xanthou - Keyboards, Vocals
Record Label: Pitch Black Records


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