Archive for Russia

Сандарния – К оружию!

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 23rd February 2019 by mickbirchy

Сандарния (Sandarnia)
К оружию! (To Arms!)
Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
Released: 9th December 2018
Self Released


This has been a really interesting album to get into. Mainly because it’s the first album I’ve ever reviewed that is not in English. So, before we start, I just want to say that I don’t speak Russian so somethings will be lost on me. Yet, I still think this is a solid record. I think it’s important to discover as much of the world as possible and music bridges that gap much easier. When I first took a listen to the new album from Sandarnia I was immediately drawn into their passion, presence and their overall tone. This band is the brainchild of Russian musician Alexander Kuznetsov and it contains some incredible performances by a variety of awesome musicians.

To Arms! is an awesome record and it feels massive. The production is so bold on every song. It just flows so well from one track to the next, with heavy guitar, a bold bass tone and terrific drum work. If there’s one thing that this project has, it’s a great sense of tone. Every tune is dramatic and it sounds big. It’s like a heavy metal orchestra. One thing I do like about this record is the variety in vocal performances. Different tunes have different singers and each one brings something brilliant to the table. One performance that I did enjoy was Daria Mikolaevskaya’s on the song “Та, что встретит с тобой смерть”. I found this song to be impressive, with its sweeping melodies and excellent musicianship.

Now, there does lie the potential to alienate a wider audience by not making it in English. I will say that and that can put some people off. Yet, I think it’s something they overcome quite well. The music is largely accessible and if you’re into this sort of this already then, then I would highly recommend giving them a chance. Also, the production, whilst impressive, can be lacking at times, with the guitars and bass sometimes mixed over the top of the vocals and that can be a little distracting at times.

Overall, I would say that this was a rather impressive listening experience. The songs are epic and the band just have the charisma of megastars. If you like your power metal bands then, Sandarnia is well worth your time. To Arms! Is an amazing epic of a record that ends on a couple of excellent covers with “Warcraft 2 Theme – Tides of Darkness” and the “Game of Thrones Theme”. If you want some good power metal in your life that you may have never considered before, this is the band for you.

4/5

Mick Birchall

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Hollywood Heads release debut track

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 8th November 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Russian band Hollywood Heads recently released their debut single, titled Blood City. The track is described as being a good example of modern metal and represents itself as a preface to the band’s debut EP. The EP is pencilled for a December release.

Blood City can be purchased at this location.

Hollywood Heads online:

http://www.facebook.com/HollywoodHeads

 

Lacuna Coil FOH Russia pics

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , on 18th October 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Front of House photos from Lacuna Coil’s recent stint in Russia:

Pictures by Richard Wolfgang. Also, thanks to Mikey Bolton for sending them in.

Leaves’ Eyes confirm Russian shows

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 21st September 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Leaves’ Eyes frontwoman Liv Kristine recently announce that the band have booked a pair of gigs in Russia.

October
31st – Vladivostok, Russia – Arena

November
2nd – Yuzhno-Sahalinsk, Russia – Rock & Jazz Club

Leaves’ Eyes are currently on tour with Firewind. Their next show is tonight in Southampton, UK at Talking Heads. A complete live itinerary can be viewed at this location.

Interview: Masha [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on 4th October 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

E-mail interview conducted with Masha of Arkona.

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Nico: As folk and pagan metal are getting more popular in the US, is there any chance you’ll be touring the US in the future? Or perhaps a South America tour?

Masha: We will go in big North American tour in November-December this year. Firstly, we will have headliner tour in Canada(9 shows) and then will join to Korpiklaani and will play 30 shows in Canada, US, and Mexico. All dates you can find on our website: http://www.arkona-russia.com

N: How do you feel heavy metal has developed since the days of the USSR?

M: Heavy music in Russia was always not so strong as in EU or US. It have no evolution because of isolation of Russia from main music market.
Now, situation is start to be normal, bands are having good instruments and possibility to make a good record.
Local scene quite strong, especially in Russian heavy/power metal. Also, pagan and black metal are not weaker than in Europe.

N: Do you feel that the new album [Slovo] differs from your previous releases? If so, how?

M: Slovo – it’s completely new stage for us, which differs from Goi, Rode, Goi and from other albums of Arkona. Firstly, because we didn‘t set any stylistic frames. Those, who did not like the musical diversity of the two previous albums, will not like new album too,  but it will bring those who appreciate us for our courage in the experiments.
Our main goal was to create an atmosphere in the album, that even man, who is far from the pagan attitudes in the music, would love it and of course, as always, we wanted to do something new, something, which is not like our previous works.

N: How are you feeling about the upcoming show with Turisas, Alestorm and Fintroll in London?

M: We played in London in Paganfest tour 8th march 2010. It’s was a normal show with a lot of people and great support of fans. Those who knew our band, came especially for us.
Also, I want to tell, that for us is very difficult to go for one show in UK, because we must get separate visa and we can’t go with normal Shengen cultural visa. So let’s speak about all after show, our agency is working on that, and we hope, that all will be ok!

N: What would say is the song that defines Arkona as a band?

M: We have no one musical conception, all songs absolutely different and it changes from album to album. That’s why it’s impossible to define Arkona with any song.

N: If you could take the soundtrack from any film and replace it with your music, which film would you choose and why?

M: This movie is “Rus Iznachalnaya”. It’s about campaign of Kniaz Oleg on Konstantinopol. It was created in the middle of 80’s and it’s one of the best movies about pre-christian Russia. We have a song with the same name from the 2005th album, which was created under impression of this movie. I think, If would be some remake, our song will fit the best for soundtrack.

N: Where do you find the inspiration for your songs? Could an idea come to at anytime like when you’re in the street or at home relaxing? Or do you get the ideas in the studio?

M: For me, any external emotional factor can force me to write something: the anger, sadness, beauty sunset, view of dead tree, watching the flight of an eagle … many, many things. All my songs were born spontaneously, but always under the influence of any factor.

N: Are there any bands in the Russian metal scene that you’d recommend our readers to check out?

M: Svarga, Rarog, Alkonost, Kalevala, Ruyan, Rossomahaar

Questions asked by our readers:

1: Your last album Goi, Rode, Goi! had a great deal of guest vocalists, will there be a similar spew of guest artists in the upcoming album, Slovo?

M: Vocalist of Rarog band, Alexandra Sidorova – a student of the Moscow Conservatory. She told us that she can get enough students who would be interested to participate on our album. So we got a full professional choir (on Goi, Rode, Goi was only a female choir, male choirs was recorded by 2 people separately).
About guest vocalists on Goi, Rode, Goi – yes, we have more guests because of song „In my land“, where members of Skyforger, Mengir, Manegarm, Obtest, Heidevolk are sang their part on their languages. We have no idea like that on a new album, so we didn’t ask to sing vocalists from other bands.
2: In the past you’ve been known to depict Slavic mythology through your music, which Slavic gods or myths inspire you most?

M: I’m not inspired by some myths. Of course, I know a lot of myths from childhood, but I’m not singing about it. In my songs I always show my respect to one of the faces of Rod – Veles. Veles – is God of wisdom and poetry.
In Slavic mythology God is Rod – he is creator of the all World. All other Gods are his faces.

3: The Ep Stenka Na Stenku I heard is about a Russian group that’s known for its fist fights. Why did you select them? Have you had any run ins with them?

M: I’m woman, you think it’s normal for woman to take part in fist fighting? J
Fist fighting – is ancient tradition, which is growing from the depths of the centuries. Now, it is going on Maslenitsa,  before, it was dedicated to Perun’s day, Perun is God of war. It’s not just fighting, it’s a ritual fighting with special rules.
Such an entertainment was believed to be good for strengthening the fighting spirit.

4: The new album will be released in two days, what can we anticipate from the new album? Are there any new ideas you’ve incorporated in this album?

M: I already told, that Slovo is absolutely new stage for us. Songs and atmosphere on it is different that on other albums. We used many new instruments and recorded orchestra and choir.
Album released more than one month ago, so I think you can hear all by yourself!

5: What did you enjoy most from recording the new album?

M: Recording the album took six months, there were many difficult and controversial issues, also was a lot of interesting things. I had to travel a lot to record a lot of new musicians in different studios of Russia.
The vocals on this album I recorded at home by myself, because I needed a full solitude to concentrate on my vocals. Mixing and the whole process of producing from beginning till the end was controlled by me.
A lot of efforts we had to put into this album, but it’s part of me and I can say that all this work has brought me great satisfaction.

6: What do you plan on doing next?

M: Now we will have neverending shows and first aim is to be alive after tours. I think, that I will create a new songs in future and in 2 years we will release our next album.

Artania – Night Shall Crown Ye [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Artania
Album: Night Shall Crown Ye
Release year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

Russia is known for its cold and cruel winter and its old, bloodthirsty leader Stalin, both of which have shaped Russia into the perfect grim environment for any black metal musician looking for bleak and nihilistic inspiration for their music. The grim environment has done more than just provide inspiration however as it has been the breeding grounds for many underground black metal bands in Russia. In 2007, Artania was born from said breeding ground, with a more black-death metal sound. After several line-up changes, they soon developed a unique blend of symphonic black metal complete with Russian lyrics. “Night Shall Crown Ye” is Artania’s debut album, released originally on May 31st through Graillight Productions in the band’s native Russia but is now available for digital release exclusively through Hunter’s Moon Records.

The air raid sirens of “Alchemic Dream (Demonic Mantra)” begin the album. The symphonic orientated riffs soon follow complete with angsty drums and violent guitar sections. The vocals are a combination of beasty and scary – Probably due to the Russian lyrics they’re screaming. The drum work is very precise and technical, showing great intellectual playing from the drummer. The whispered section is somewhat eerily haunting. The only downside to “Alchemic Dream” is that it doesn’t seem as aggressive as a black metal track usually is – This could be a result of the emphasis on the orchestration or perhaps a fault on the producer’s behalf.

The title track “Night Shall Crown Ye” begins more slow paced with a slightly progressive sound echoing from the drum work. The pace slowly and ever so slightly increases, building up for the appearance of the vocals. To begin with, the vocals are more along the lines of death metal as opposed to black metal. The Russian lyrics help give the track that certain grim touch that very few black metal bands today can pull off. Another key element about the track is the lack of orchestration when compared to the guitars and drums and the use of female vocals is simply enchanting, for lack of a better word. “Mysteries of Order of Priorate Zion” is an aggressive and barbaric track at the start. The vocals have become more hateful and rage-fuelled. There is more use of symphonic elements compared to “Night Shall Crown Ye”, adding a very Gothic sound to it. A big downfall for “Mysteries of Order of Priorate Zion” is that it doesn’t seem as heavy as it’s meant to be.

The acoustic beginning of “Liturgy in Black Colors” greets the listener unexpectedly. Fortunately for those whom don’t enjoy acoustic guitars, the sound of electric guitars soon blasts through. There is more use of orchestration as well as more black metal screams, which is always a good thing for black metal fans. During the second half of the track, the acoustic guitar appears again, which puts a sudden halt to the energy of the track and the vocals seem to be more demonic, more violent and more spiteful, sounding almost like the blood curdling screams of Abaddon. “San-Grinyol (Theatre Of Death” continues from where the previous track finished, bringing in more use of acoustic instrumentation to begin with before the savagery of the electric guitars and drums breaks in. “San-Grinyol” is clearly more brutal than the previous four tracks and is possibly one of the best on the album so far. The guitar solo is well composed though slightly short.

The assaulting drum work and guitar riffs of “Fogs Of Witches Heath” tears through next, bringing raw, untamed energy and aggression with them. The vocals are more bloodthirsty and savage in their sound, which is both terrifying and awesome. The combination of female vocals and piano medleys is immense, especially when when the track turns heavy again with the female vocals working alongside the harsher vocals, in true beauty and the beast fashion. “Towards Northern Wind” brings a calmer approach to the album whilst retaining a certain element of heaviness at the same time. Disappointingly, there is a lack in the use of orchestration, save for the introduction and the middle section. During one part of the second half, the vocals sound very raspy, which is a great effect for both the album and the track. “Thirteenth Sign Of Nostradamus” can only be described as hauntingly Gothic to begin with before the melodic guitar work kicks in followed by the raw sounding vocals. The whole track seems to be more passionate and energetic than the rest of the album which says a lot considering how energetic the previous tracks are.

The album finishes with “Secrets Of The Moon”, which is another track to feature an acoustic beginning. The female voiceover in Russian adds a very creepy sound which is soon fought off by the sudden – and unexpected – increase of heaviness. The track remains consistent in its brutal aggressiveness. The drum work is intelligent and the guitar sections are immense. “Secrets Of The Moon” is possibly the most brilliant way to end the album.

It’s hard to believe that “Night Shall Crown Ye” is the debut album of Artania, as the album has such a mature sound to it, anyone would think its Artania’s third or fourth album. The sound is unique, brilliant and definitely worth a listen, even if some parts of the album are a let down. Clearly, Russia is a country filled with talented musicians and Artania’s “Night Shall Crown Ye” is evidence of this.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Blackthorn – Gossamer Witchcraft [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 26th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Blackthorn
Album: Gossamer Witchcraft
Release year: 2010
Genre: Extreme Metal/Gothic Metal/Black Metal

It’s not often that one hears of an all-female extreme metal band from Russia, let alone any kind of metal band from Russia, as most of the exposure for metal seems to be in European nations such as Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Scandinavia along with some emerging from the US. However, Blackthorn, made up of five lovely ladies, whom hail from Russia, have been a force not to be messed with in the Russian metal scene, combining gothic and black metal into something new. Their debut album “Gossamer Witchcraft” will be the album to determine their success on the international metal scene.

”Immortelle for a Hollow Grave”, the shortest track on the album, offers up a very mystifying atmosphere with the use of whispers and a haunting piano medley. “Edenbeast” seems to carry on from where “Immortelle for a Hollow Grave” finishes, bringing with it a violent guitar riff and fast-paced orchestration. The drums are machine-like in their playing, yet more brutal and heavy than a drum machine could ever be. The vocals leave something to be desired as their operatic styling doesn’t seem to work along side the aggression of the guitars. The guitar solo is just amazing – Whoever said that a woman can’t solo is clearly wrong. The gothic orchestration of “Necromance” follows after, before the orchestration is wiped away by the guitars. The vocals are different to begin with, favouring good ol’ fashioned death metal grunts and growls but the operatically styled vocals can be heard on this track yet they seem to work with the savagery of the track this time. “Necromance”, put simply, is like a more extreme version of an Epica track.

”The Moon Emerged From Behind Clouds” begins with a faster tempo compared to the two last tracks. The brutality continues on this one as well, fortunately enough for those who enjoy the elements of extreme metal. The soprano vocals are simply memorising and enchanting. The riffs seem to have a bit more melody whilst the drums still have that machine-like precision to them. Classical meets gothic in the form of “Saturnia” during its introduction. The guitar riff that follows has a very death metal sound to it, whilst the drums appear to be lacking slightly in power. The keyboard  and vocal sections add a hint of beauty of the beasty violence of the guitars and drums.

“Blackthorn Winter” is another song with a gothic-turns-brutal introduction. Everything, except for the keyboards and vocals, seems faster, more violent and more angry. In some sections, it sounds as if the vocals are struggling to keep up with the tempo of the music. The best thing about the track would have to be energy and passion that just burst out at the listener. “The Blackness I Prowl” has an interesting beginning, being composed of dark orchestration and what could possibly be the sound of a howling wolf. The vocals are so powerful yet so haunting at the same time. The voice over about half way through adds a very horror film-like touch to the track as well. An interesting thing about “The Blackness I prowl” is the emphasis on the orchestration as opposed to the shredding guitars and pounding drums.

The title track “Gossamer Witchcraft” has a good introduction – Combining dark orchestration with narration. There is more emphasis on the orchestration throughout the song, with the guitars having a minor part in comparison though they do appear frequently through the track, fortunately enough for those who enjoy the face-melting riffs. Though the soprano vocals are featured through the track, there does seem to be more work done by the narration and voice overs which is somewhat of a let down but the guitar solo does heavily make up for the let down!

”Will-o-the-wisp” combined orchestration, acoustic guitars, soprano vocals and distorted riffs into a masterpiece of a track. Oddly enough though, it seems vaguely familiar in the eerie déjà vu kind of sense. “The Cobweb Veils Fall Down With Grace” acts as an interlude before the final two songs, bringing a terrifying essence to the album with its dark and melancholy piano medley. The final two tracks are the Russian language editions of “Necromance” and “The Moon Emerged From Behind Clouds”. They are a lot more exciting with Russian lyrics, bringing a sense of despair and horror with them.

Blackthorn certainly are different to most female fronted bands. They are more aggressive and violent in the music and more dramatic and haunting in the vocals – In fact, in terms of heaviness and brutality, they put a lot of male-dominated bands in the extreme metal scene to shame. “Gossamer Witchcraft” is a mammoth of a testament to the skill, talent and musical genius of Blackthorn. It’s a great addition to any extreme and gothic metal fan’s collection and clearly has the potential to be amongst the top metal albums of the century.

5/5

Nico Davidson