After the split that brought to the birth of Кипелов and the departure to Master of other ex-members, only two leading songwriters remained in Ария, including founder guitarist Vladimir Holstinin filling the lead guitar rank since 1985!
The Russian band has an over thirty-year-old career and has recently taken the liberty of a North American tour, as well as dates in Germany; moreover, to spread the name worldwide, collaborations with Danish brewery Faxe and American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson have been enacted, too.
The new vocalist, already in the line-up for five years, is a key to the success of the new album, due to his excellent voice and performance, so important for a Heavy Metal act in order to deliver all the necessary nuances and accents, and avoid boredom or listening fatigue.
The 65-minute-long album is offered in a comfortable digipack and the crystal-clear, balanced, adrenalinic production makes things plain from the first seconds of the opener title-track, where the huge basswork is amplified and the Maidenian influences in the riffs and licks shine along with the tight, powerful vocals duelling with the squealing guitars. Although too similar to the British gods' mid-career material, this song conquers you from the first seconds and changes your mood for the better. At least the Russians aren't copying the Britons' look anymore, unlike what happened at the end of the 80s, where the similarities of haircuts, clothes, instruments and moves were way too exaggerated.
"Город" starts with a modern soft electronic intro soon making way for a Thrash Metal riff; there are several mid-tempo slightly echoed breaks that prepare us for the masterful refrain, standing out to the point of giving you thrills down your spine. Everyone knows that when a song touches you so intimately, it means 'mission accomplished' and therefore the composition is worth purchasing the CD itself; as if it weren't enough all the axe solos prove to come from a brilliant couple of guitarists who know their job pretty well in more than occasion. I'm pretty sure this is going to be a classic in most of the Russian band's live setlists.
Even Sleazy Rock is served on this album, as the beginning of "Блики солнца на воде!" depicts; it feels like watching a classical Western scene in a sunny desert Far West town when the goodie walks towards a do or die duel. In this slow-paced mostly Heavy Metal track the opera-singing capacities, palm-muted riffs, open riffs and the unexpected rhythm variation at the end before the fiery guitar solo hold the spotlight in turn, all enriched by the perfect timing and sonic decorations from drummer Maxim Udalov.
About to face a tough exam, an operation, or a trial? Then your speakers should be blasting "Не сходи с ума!", Power Metal making great strides forward like a tank, once again made precious by Mikhail Zhitnyakov's involving voice, superior to that of many Western colleagues. Moreover, I love the way the guitars and the drums advance soling and licking before the refrain repeats itself.
"Время затмений" is basically HM with Rock guitars, an insistent refrain and battle backing vocals before the nth guitar solo.
A ballad where, like during the opening track, the bass gets heard a lot, "Точка невозврата" easily achieves elevated emotional intensity levels thanks to the moving vocals and the delicate second guitar acoustically pairing the distorted main one. Not a surprise it was chosen to be accompanied by an official video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO0uf36Emdg).
The aura of Iron Maiden ("Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter"-period) reappers clearly in "Ангелы неба", fortified by a brazen axe solo while the second winds up rapidly; this mid-tempo composition is another killer song and catches you from the first instants and it doesn't matter much that it's not too original, if not for the final mark of the review.
An elegant and Jazzy beginning characterizes "Атака мертвецов!", followed by a tight riff; the drumming offers more variations than the average; it is important to notice that one riff and one part (vocals included) deeply reflect Russian mentality, but not for this is this less beautiful than the remaining material. There's even a vaguely Middle-Eastern guitar solo before the song slows down and becomes softer; then the riffs and the refrain come back until the terrifying earthquake drum beat concludes it. We can define it as one of the Russians' most experimental episodes.
The longest of the 11 tracks, "Зов бездны" kicks off as a ballad accompanied by echoed vocals, and then the hard structure arrives. The contrasts between melody and roughness go on all along the composition, embellished by shiny licks one more time. Nice, original, multiform and neverending is the guitar solo preceding the Maidenian fugue that pops up later.
Pleasant and very original, "Бегущий человек" contains the most intense kick drums of the album, while the guitars are allowed to deliver a weird riff till it's axe solo time once again.
Unlike the digital versions, the CD offers a bonus track, that is "Точка невозврата" in an orchestral version with piano lines and other arch instruments; the length remains the same, and it sounds like a deign end to a record graced by excellent sounds, performance and flashes of originality. Even those who don't understand Metal will love it, I have no doubt about it.
Ария keep the flag of traditional Heavy Metal with an album exceeding the hour of length without us even realizing it's over. This is achieved through the avoiding of fillers, an avalanche of masterful riffs, solos and vocals that make the average, the advanced and the basic Metal fan happy. Ария die-hard fans can go one step forward by obtaining the deluxe version of the CD with a second CD containing all of the songs in their instrumental form.
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 14th May, 2016