No two ARMAGEDDON releases sound like the others. Well, there’s only three, but you get my point. Christopher Amott (ex-ARCH ENEMY) used this side project to explore his different musical sides—with “Crossing The Rubicon” you get some of the Melo-Death/Thrash really similar to what ARCH ENEMY served up on their first two releases, while on the next two, “Embrace The Illusion” and “Three,” you get Power/Prog and Hard Rock, respectively.
Basically, ARMAGEDDON is Christopher Amott, as the line-up changes on his whims. “Crossing The Rubicon” features Jonas Nyrén (IN THY DREAMS) with competent, but unremarkable mid-range growls, Amott on guitars, Martin Bengtson (ex-ARCH ENEMY) on bass and Peter Wildoer (DARKANE, session member of ARCH ENEMY, about a dozen other bands) on drums. The latter two would appear on “Embrace the Illusion,” but they were gone by “Three.”
Enough of a history lesson. Let’s see what the younger Amott brings to the table. Something tells me it’ll be focused on the guitar.
“2022 (Intro)” immediately confirms this as we have great futuristic, foreboding harmonies right off the bat. I have to say, I love the Amotts’ work with ARCH ENEMY and this is great. “Godforsaken” lets us know that this is a concept album. Seems our corruption, greed, etc. has inspired celestial punishment. As the Earth is swept clean by “The Juggernaut Divine,” a few humans manage to escape in a rocket that is rather ill-fated.
Admittedly, “Crossing The Rubicon” is a fairly uneven album. It contains two of my all-time favourite songs—the massively evil “The Juggernaut Divine” and the beautiful instrumental “Funeral In Space,” but the rest of the album doesn’t quite bring it. “Godforsaken” and “Astral Adventure” are competent, but the guitar work is really all you’ll get from them--but oh, what guitar work! “Galaxies Away” (a nearly four minute percussion piece) and “Children Of The New Sun” (half intro, half Doom) work better as concepts than as songs. Is anybody else reminded of “Ashes In Your Mouth” by MEGADETH when they hear the beginning of “Into The Sun?” Stick around for the refrain and the awesome solo in the middle.
So when Christopher Amott lets loose, this album really shines. When he sits back, it’s never actually bad, but often competent. Still, any album that has “The Juggernaut Divine” and “Funeral In Space” on it is way far into the thumbs up category. If you’ve worn out your copies of “Black Earth” and “Stigmata,” you may want to invest time into tracking down this rare album, which (as far as I know) was only released in Japan and Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong release also features a cover of IRON MAIDEN’s “Die With Your Boots On.” That just has to sound unique. (Online March 30, 2006)