of the first Russian bands, gone through obvious and cospicuous
line-up settlements, Moscow's Legion are far from their sunset and glad
to give us their new offering, their 8th studio album from their foundation
year (1981). A mix of traditional Power metal with several melodic intrusions
in a Helloween-meets-Diamond Head way, still based on topics such as
fantasy and tales, but also love and philosophy.
This record is a concept all in Russian and is accompanied by a rich
and brilliant cover artwork referred to constellations, stars and other
cosmos components. Unfortunately there's no translation, but the translated
titles help a little to have a pale idea of the sensations stirred up
by the tracks. All of the songs were professionally recorded and they
show a band able to compete with the most talented international competitors,
even if the language barrier is an obstacle that will prevent them from
meeting a high acclamation abroad in non-CIS countries.
When you listen to the opener "Knight of the Legion"
and the title track, you realize that experience pays and that the lords
come from the reign once ruled by czars do know how to write effective
songs of majestic, melodic Power metal with wonderful vocals; Mr. Bulgakov
is a singer who also had the honour to work with Aria (RUS), and such
things always happen because of a precise reason, and this is already
a steady warranty of quality. His vocals, sometimes almost operistical,
always powerful and never too high, perfectly duet with the keyboards
escapes, and touch the peak in the refrain of "Fantasy".
A radio classic is "Bird" for sure, lost in reverie
and romantic, this is magic at its purest state like the following "Choice",
closed by a remarkable 6-string solo.
Bucolic and contemporarily refined, "Night" will make
even girls who say no to everybody fall in love, exploit it!
After the relaxing instrumental "Dawn", here comes
the Power/Speed of "Mirrors", requiring the drummer
more effort than usual, while the piano-based "Star",
displays the breadth of the vocalist's whole range.
In the end "The Game", a bonus track taken from a single,
sturdy, in the typical Legion style once again; it contains the best
guitar solo and it's not a filler at all. Such kinds of tricks are not
to be expected from rare gentlemen like the five aces from the Red Square.
It doesn't weigh at all the lack of originality of the songs, because
the 5-piece's class, skill and the arranging level are so elevated to
make you forget this detail immediately. The album grows listen after
listen and strikes thanks to the right balance of different moods, spacing
from relaxing songs to real crushers ready to provoke even the tiredest,
least careful public and covering a large number of feelings. Were I
the A&R of Nuclear Blast or Century Media, I'd have no brakes in
proposing the Moscow masters a deal and investing a lot in their promotion,
as they might have more chances to be widely appreciated in the West
than Aria (despite the language). That said, every Power metaller with
a respectable discography should own this masterpiece sooner or later.
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 20th March 2006