Album Review – R.U.S.T.X / Center Of The Universe (2019)

Deeply rooted into 70’s and 80’s rock and metal music, three brothers and one sister from Cyprus are unleashing upon us their sensational third full-length album.

Formed in Agioi Trimithias, a village located in the Nicosia District of Cyprus, in the year of 2003 under the name Flames In Ice, and known as R.U.S.T. from 2004 until 2014, Heavy Metal/Hard Rock four-piece act R.U.S.T.X is ready to take the world of rock and metal by storm once again with their third full-length album entitled Center Of The Universe, bringing to our avid ears truly from-the-heart and no bullshit melodic Heavy Metal with classic rocking passages highly inspired by renowned bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Warlord, Savatage, Stormwitch and Riot, their absolute passion as one can easily determine with just one listen. Comprised of three brothers and one sister, those being Peter Pan Xanthou on the guitars, George Xanthou on bass, Katerina Xanthou on keyboards and John Xanthou on drums, all four members share the vocal duties in the album, giving it an even more unique taste.

Enthusiastic and passionate about everything they do, their brand new opus will unquestionably convince old school lovers that they do mean serious business, with their outstanding positive energy and originality being accurately reflected by each of the album’s ten magnificent songs deeply rooted into 70’s and 80’s Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal. Featuring guest appearances by Paolo Nipa (Dark Quarterer) and Andrea Ramacciotti (Deadly Tide), recorded and mixed at Woodstock Recording Studio in Piombino, Italy by Andrea Ramacciotti, and displaying a magical artwork created by the amazing Chris Achilleos, known for his unique interpretation of stunning amazons, epic dragons and paintings inspired by ancient civilizations and mythology, Center Of The Universe will put you in a trance from start to finish, showing how powerful and gripping the music by R.U.S.T.X can be. “With this album we really pushed ourselves to the limit and the result is like something out of this planet. A comeback to the 70’s and 80’s era of Rock and Metal music that we so much adore,” commented the band, giving you a very good idea of the insane rock n’ roll party that’s about to begin as soon as you hit play.

Uniting the classic rock by AC/DC with the progressiveness of Rush, the Xanthou Brothers and Sister embellish the airwaves with the opening track Defendre Le Rock, showcasing a healthy and beautiful balance between the heavy riffs and piercing solos by Peter and the whimsical keys by Katerina, whereas in Running Man the quartet speeds things up and delivers sheer adrenaline in the form of music, with John taking the lead with his frantic drums while Katerina continues to blast her Deep Purple and Axel Rudi Pell-inspired keys, resulting in a true Cypriot Metal hymn. And in Black Heart the band takes us all to a journey back to the 70’s, blasting high-end Progressive Rock with George shaking the foundations of the earth with his bass. Not only that, it’s definitely very interesting how their vocal lines are always more enraged than the usual Progressive Rock and Metal acts throughout the entire song.

Then an eccentric intro grows in intensity until pure Rock N’ Roll hits us in the head in I Stand To Live, spearheaded by Katerina’s powerful vocals, and again it’s amazing how they can offer so many vocal styles in one album, not to mention their superb job on the guitars and bass (especially the flammable solos by Peter Pan); followed by Endless Skies, an upbeat composition by the band displaying classic Hard Rock infused with 80’s and 90’s elements, as well as numerous breaks and variations, presenting an amazing job done by both George and John with their rumbling instruments. And the sounds of nature and gentle voices ignite the title-track Center Of The Universe, feeling like the overture of a sonic ritual and sounding absolutely unique and experimental. Get ready for over ten minutes of complex guitar lines and classy keys, enfolding vocalizations and all of the band’s other magical sounds and tones until the song’s grand finale, turning it into a must-listen for admirers of the genre.

The electric guitars by Peter Pan dictate the rhythm in the dancing rock tune Widow’s Cry, sounding like a Hybrid between the early days of Nightwish with Doro where Katerina once again steals the spotlight with her gorgeous vocal lines, while Peter Pan’s slashing riffs and solos and George’s Iron Maiden-inspired bass lines are the icing on the cake. In Wake Up, an excellent Progressive Rock extravaganza, they sound like a younger and European version of Rush, bringing forward a fantastic work done by John with his intricate beats, and keys and riffs in total sync that will certainly warm up the listener’s heart and soul. And last but not least, the CD version of the album contains two awesome bonus tracks, starting with the headbanging rock tune Dirty Road, where the entire band breathes fire from their tuneful instruments, and Band On The Run, a sensational cover version of the song by Paul McCartney & Wings released in 1973 (check the original one HERE), where R.U.S.T.X give the song a more progressive and psychedelic vibe.

You can find Center Of The Universe available for a full and detailed listen on Spotify, but of course in order to show your utmost support to this talented family I recommend you purchase your desired version of the album from the band’s own webstore, from the Pitch Black Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and from several other locations such as Saturn.de, Apple Music, Amazon and Discogs. Also, why don’t you give them a shout on their Facebook page and also subscribe to their YouTube channel? Those are excellent ways to keep in touch with what’s certainly one of the best and most exciting bands hailing from Cyprus, and without any doubt the most united and passionate family from the underground Rock N’ Roll scene.

Best moments of the album: Running Man, I Stand To Live, Widow’s Cry and Band On The Run.

Worst moments of the album: Black Heart.

Released in 2019 Pitch Black Records

Track listing
1. Defendre Le Rock 4:51
2. Running Man 3:25
3. Black Heart 4:29
4. I Stand To Live 5:26
5. Endless Skies 4:32
6. Center Of The Universe 9:09
7. Widow’s Cry 5:38
8. Wake Up 4:45

CD bonus tracks
9. Dirty Road 4:17
10. Band On The Run (Paul McCartney & Wings cover) 5:18

Band members
Peter Pan Xanthou – guitars, vocals
George Xanthou – bass, vocals
Katerina Xanthou – keyboards, vocals
John Xanthou – drums, vocals

Guest musicians
Paolo “Nipa” Ninci – drums, percussion
Andrea Ramacciotti – guitars

Album Review – Memoriam / Ravaged Approach EP (2016)

Powerful and poetic heavy music directly from the ancient island of Aphrodite into your metallic ears, blending modern aspects of Melodic Death Metal along with an old school Death Metal atmosphere.

Rating5

ravaged-approach-coverThe Republic of Cyprus might not be known worldwide for its metal scene like Finland, Germany or Italy, with less than 60 active bands hailing from the ancient island of Aphrodite as per Encyclopaedia Metallum, but since 2012 there’s a band from the capital city of Nicosia that wants to change that image through their vigorous music. Playing a unique style that blends modern aspects of Melodic Death Metal along with an old school Death Metal atmosphere, Cypriot metallers Memoriam have just released their debut EP titled Ravaged Approach, containing five distinct compositions tailored for fans of bands that know how to generate some good harmonious noise such as Amorphis, Amon Amarth and Children of Bodom.

Displaying a grisly artwork by Greek artist and musician Manthos Stergiou (Manster Design), Ravaged Approach will provide you a different story in each of its songs, with concepts such as political and religious corruption, as well as human ignorance and arrogance, being utilized to pinpoint and cauterize the human psyche as the music progresses. Put differently, you’ll face introspective passages followed by heavier and angrier moments, pure savagery amidst harmonious lines, among other paradoxal but complementary elements, all embraced by the poetry found in the lyrics by those five talented musicians.

In the opening track Incessant Martyrdom, a gentle intro quickly becomes a dense feast of Melodic Death Metal, with the guttural vocals by Artemis Choutris leaning towards old school Death Metal while the top-notch quality of the album’s recording elevates the power of guitars, bass and drums to the next level. Moreover, not only lyrics are extremely poetic, but also amazingly cryptic (“I am someone else / I can’t accept my mind / Passive-Aggressiveness / I hear a bluebird cry / I am invincible / I am inaudible / Self-Ultimatum / A conscious Pendulum”). Following that great start, Deception Inc. brings forward more sharp riffs blasted by guitarists Andreas Haggiandreou and Panayiotis Chrysostomides, with bassist Thirsos Makloklas and drummer Barnabas Koromias leading this violent tempest of modern metal music with an old school punch on vocals.

bandThen we have lots of progressiveness and feeling in the excellent song Metaphysical Idiom, where Andreas and Panayiotis fire some razor-edged riffs and solos while Artemis continues to showcase all his vocal power; and Sated Bull, with its encouraging lyrics about never giving up (“If we must die, we must die defending our rights / Then every seed is awakened / Along with all animal life / Stone in my heart, / A buffalo ready to fight, / Unshackled lost prophets, / A bloodsport that perished all tribes.”). Once again displaying an amazing amount of intricacy through all instruments, this hymn is highly recommended for some sick headbanging, with the bass guitar by Thirsos beautifully vibrating nonstop in the background. And the fifth and last song of the EP, named Βάκχαι (The Bacchae), inspired by an ancient Greek tragedy, sounds very metallic and extremely heavy, with its old school Death Metal guitars contrasting with the song’s contemporary rhythm effectively, also exhibiting another excellent performance by Barnabas on drums.

In order to start exploring the realms of Cypriot Metal, go check Memoriam’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, where you’ll see their level of professionalism, passion and determination for heavy music is just as grandiose as in any other country with a more developed scene. And if you want to show your true support for metal from the ancient island of Aphrodite (which would be an amazing name for a song or album, don’t you agree?), go grab your copy of Ravaged Approach at their BandCamp page, at CD Baby, on iTunes or on Amazon. After Ravaged Approach, it’s just a matter before Memoriam begin spreading their wings all over the world, reaching new heights (and several different countries) with their music and live performances.

Best moments of the album: Deception Inc. and Sated Bull.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Incessant Martyrdom 4:27
2. Deception Inc. 2:56
3. Metaphysical Idiom 3:55
4. Sated Bull 5:43
5. Βάκχαι (The Bacchae) 4:02

Band members
Artemis Choutris – vocals
Andreas Haggiandreou – guitars
Panayiotis Chrysostomides – guitars
Thirsos Makloklas – bass
Barnabas Koromias – drums