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A seething mass of hardcore energy and screamo vocals, Philadelphia's Hot Cross are a fortuitous collision of talent from a handful of noteworthy punk bands, including members of Saetia, Southpaw, Joshua Fit for Battle, You and I, and Off Minor, though the group's music has managed to avoid the pitfalls of the "side project syndrome" and evolved into an exciting and challenging entity all its own. Hot Cross came together in 2000, when percussionist Greg Drudy (ex-Saetia and Southpaw), guitarist Matt Smith (formerly of Off Minor, and a member of She's Hit! with Drudy), and singer and guitarist Adam Marino (from Saetia and Errortype: 11) decided to join forces and form a new band devoted to fast, loud, and lean punk rock.

Needing a bass player, the new band invited their friend Josh Jakubowski (ex-Joshua Fit for Battle) to join, but soon afterwards Marino dropped out, citing the demanding time commitments of Errortype: 11. After a few practices as a three-piece, Casey Boland (formerly of You and I) came aboard as a second guitarist, and Hot Cross began working up material in earnest. After completing a set of songs, Hot Cross decided they needed a stronger singer, and Billy Werner, another veteran of Saetia and She's Hit!, was sent a copy of the band's demo while he was studying overseas. Upon returning, Werner jumped into the group head first, and played his first gig with Hot Cross less than a week after returning to the United States.

After contributing to a couple of compilations, the band released its first EP, A New Set of Lungs, in early 2003, followed a few months later by a split single with Light the Fuse and Run. By the end of the year, Hot Cross had released their first full-length album, Cryonics, though the independent Level Plane label. Smith and Jakubowski traded places on bass and guitar for the band's second album, 2004's Fair Trades and Farewells, but after nearly six months of touring following the record's release, Jakubowski left the band to pursue a career as a recording engineer. Jakubowski's departure was amicable, and the band (continuing on as a quartet) approached him to record its third album, Risk Revival, which was released by Equal Vision Records in February 2007. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi