Saturday, July 7, 2018

Монумент Страха - s/t [1989]


Artist: Монумент Страха
Title: Монумент Страха
Genre: Post-Punk, Noise Rock
Country: USSR
Release date: 1989

Track List:
  1. Букеты Роз
  2. Микробы
  3. Ликует Слава В Огне Заката
  4. Грусть - Источник Мечты
  5. Рождество
  6. Смерть Слепых
  7. Памяти Я.К. 
  8. Микробы (bonus 1990)
  9. Смерть Слепых (bonus 1990)
  10. Памяти Я.К. (bonus 1990)
Finally, I found the debut self-titled release of this very obscure Soviet post-punk/industrial rock band (perhaps one of the very first ones), whose second album I've posted here about an year ago. It was re-released on cassette (30 copies) by Ultra Records in 2009, and later on CD along with their 2nd album.

Compared to their second album, it's more straightforward post-punk with less distorted vocals, but the fans of early industrial/noise rock in the vein of Swans should enjoy this one too. Overall, both their sound and aesthetics were exactly what's expected from an obscure industrial/noise rock band from the late 80s, and it's sometimes hard to believe that it was recorded in Leningrad and not in London or New York. I'm still searching for any releases of their side project called Mechanical Ballet (if there were any at all).


Дубль-1 - s/t EP [1986]

Artist: Дубль-1
Title: Дубль-1 (demo EP)
Genre: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
Country: USSR
Year: 1986

Track List:
  1. Дни, подстерегающие нас
  2. Суббота
  3. Ворон-викинг
  4. Страшный век
  5. Спи, дитя
Among the bands featured on this compilation, there's one female-fronted band (one of the very few ones at that time) called Markiza (not to be confused with Markize!), which was considerably popular among Soviet metal fans during the late 80s, yet is largely forgotten by now. Here's their even more obscure predecessor, whose music I personally like better.

Both bands were started by Sergey Sokolov, who began his career of a professional musician in 1970, and has played guitar in many "prestigious" pop/rock bands during the 70s. By the end of 1978, he and his wife Elena decided to record a hard rock album. They did have recorded a full-length album by 1982 (which wasn't officially released), but it wasn't particularly "hard" when it comes to sound. After one more failed pop/rock project, they again decided to start a hard rock band in early 1985. Their first live performance for a big audience took place at the festival "Rock Panorama '86" - the very first official rock festival held in Moscow during 4-8 May 1986. Again, they haven't played anything particularly "hard" there - their program consisted solely of pop-rock, although of a rather good kind:


While they haven't particularly impressed the public with their sound, Elena did cause a scandal by demonstratively wearing a very short skirt on stage - nothing special in today's times, but quite provocative back then. Yet that performance helped them to get more recognition, and, after some line-up changes, they officially hired by the Moscow regional philharmonic society. This enabled them to record their one and only hard rock EP, which is presented here. However, the next 1987 year wasn't good for them - Elena and Sergey have divorced, and in the end of the year, they were fired from the philharmonic. Later in 1988, they went on to form a much more successful glam-oriented band Markiza, but that's another story.

This EP turned out to be surprisingly good, all things considered. Obviously influenced by Lita Ford, Doro Pesch and Lee Aaron, it mostly lies on the blurry boundary between hard rock and traditional heavy metal (+ a ballad in the end of the EP, which is probably the best song on the whole release). The 3rd track can even be half-jokingly considered to be the first viking metal song made in the USSR... or, with all seriousness, probably the first Soviet/Russian metal song with lyrics based on the Norse mythology:





Saturday, June 30, 2018

V/A - "Monsters of Rock USSR" [1986-1993]

Artist: (various)
Title: Monsters of Rock USSR
Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Glam Rock
Country: USSR
Year: 1986-93

Track List:
  1. Диалог - Красный рок
  2. Статус - Лешаки
  3. Чёрный кофе - Владимирская Русь
  4. Тяжёлый день - Берегись жала
  5. Коррозия металла - Дьявол здесь
  6. Железный поток - Эмбрион
  7. Э.С.Т. - 30 ХГСА
  8. Маркиза - 220 вольт
  9. Мастер - Воля и разум
  10. Союз - Племена
  11. Чёрный обелиск - Стена
  12. Круиз - Дальний свет
  13. Демарш - Свободная любовь
  14. Рондо - Богиня секса
  15. Джокер - Магия
  16. Холостой выстрел - Тотальный исход
bonus:
  1. Август - Демон
  2. Ария - Герой асфальта
  3. Фронт - Мы победим
  4. Парк Горького - Volga Boatman
This compilation was made by a music journalist Denis Boyarinov, originally including 16 tracks and released under the title "Devil Is Here: Soviet Halloween Rock". Later on, the owner of this blog decided to extend it a bit. In its final form, it contains 20 tracks by various Soviet metal bands, both well-known and obscure.

Of course, it should be mentioned that some of the bands on there were not that good, and are deservedly forgotten by now. For instance, glam rock bands like Rondo became popular mostly due to the use of the word "sex" in their lyrics (yes, it was considered quite scandalous at the time), and their provocative stage looks:

A special case is Korrozia Metalla, who never were a good band by any means, yet they successfully made a career of a comedy/shock rock band, and their frontman now enjoys a living meme status. Some of the better known bands on there, such as Aria and Black Coffee, are now considered extremely uncool to listen to by metal elitists, but 30 years back they enjoyed an unquestionable cult status among "rebellious" Soviet teenagers. In particular, the debut album of Black Coffee was sold in more than a million copies, largely because it was the only metal album available in stores in most smaller towns around 1988:



Some tracks on this compilation are from the post-Soviet period (1992-93), but the overwhelming majority of them are from 1988-91, when the public interest in metal was at its peak in the USSR (fun fact: the "Monsters of Rock" festival held near Moscow in 1991, featuring Metallica, Pantera and AC/DC, is now considered one of the largest rock/metal festivals in history - according to some estimates, the number of attendees was over 1.5 million!). The metal scene first appeared in the Soviet Union during the summer of 1984 (initually consisting mostly of children of diplomats and other people who was able to travel to the Western Bloc countries), broke into mainstream around 1987-1988, and became largely dead by 1995 (the modern Russian metal scene is a different story).

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Asparez - "Anathema" [1990]

Artist: Asparez
Title: Anathema
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Country: Armenian SSR
Year: 1990

Track List:
  1. Clearing
  2. Fire & Metal
  3. Sorrow
  4. Crazy Age
  5. Tell Me
  6. White As Black
  7. Untruthful Game
  8. Black Garden
Asparez were quite possibly the very first Armenian metal band, formed in 1982 and released their first demo in 1985. The demo, however, is now lost, so this album is their one and only available release. It was recorded around 1988, during the times when an ethnic conflict in Armenia and Azerbaijan was already brewing (the song "Black Garden" is dedicated to these events).

On last.fm, I've seen it tagged as "protoSOAD", but as for me, the only things in common between Asparez and SOAD are their "heavy" sound and ethnic Armenian musicians in their line-up. In fact, Asparez are much more similar to another well-known Soviet Armenian metal band, Ayas. I'd recommend both bands to anyone who's looking for obscure old school metal with lyrics in a weird sounding language:

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Elay Arson - "Spirit | Death" [2018]

Artist: Elay Arson
Title: Spirit | Death
Genre: Synthwave, Industrial Metal
Country: USA
Year: 2018

Track List:
  1. Sunrise
  2. Tawa
  3. Cheveyo
  4. Masauwu, Fire Keeper
  5. Sussustanako
  6. Masauwu, Skeleton Man
  7. Mescalero Prophecy 
  8. Fifth World Gate (feat. Carbon Killer)
  9. Final Midnight Ride (feat. Ultraboss)
  10. End Times
I didn't know anything about this project until yesterday, but after taking a brief look at the track list, I guessed that this album is inspired by Native American folklore. Turned out I was right:

"An intense album inspired by the themes of southwestern Native American stories, deities, subjugation, genocide, and the apocalypse. This work pays homage to the Apache ancestry and childhood Hopi upbringing of band member Daniel Larson."

While I must admit I don't know an awful lot about the Apache or Hopi cultures, this release is fairly good. It's entirely instrumental (apart from some spoken introduction), and features a mix of synthwave and industrial metal (however, it's still much more "synth" than "metal"):

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Second To Sun - "The Black" [2018]

Artist: Second To Sun
Title: The Black
Genre: Black/Groove Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2018

Track List:
  1. Ladoga Master
  2. The Wall
  3. Chokk Kapper
  4. Vasilisa
  5. Region 13
  6. The Fool
  7. Mrakobesie pt. 1: Divine
  8. Mrakobesie pt. 2: Letter
  9. Mrakobesie pt. 3: Hunger
  10. Mrakobesie pt. 4: МК-ULTRA RU
  11. Heaven Sent (Bonus Track)
Every metal blog I'm reading seems to have reviewed this album by now, so... #MeToo :) This is the re-release of the previous album "Blackbound" by Second to Sun, but with vocals performed by Gleb Sysoev (ex-Deafknife). Deafknife were one of my favourite Russian post-black metal bands, so I had high hopes for this album.

"The Black" is certainly different from "Blackbound", not only because of the vocals, but also because of its more aggressive approach. Looks like the band finally found the right proportions for their mix of (post-)black and groove metal. The lyrical themes remain usual for S2S: both real life horror stories and the mythological ones taken from the folk tales of the Russian North and the minor Finno-Ugric peoples. The lyrics, however, are the weakest point of this album: they generally appear like they were written by an edgy teenager with little to no poetic skills. While this isn't going to be a big problem for the listeners that aren't Russian speakers, I still wonder why the quality of lyrics is so poor while the project's mastermind is talking a lot about how he strives for the world-class production quality of his music. Anyway, the stories behind the music are fairly interesting. Enjoy:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Thy Catafalque - "Geometria" [2018]

Artist: Thy Catafalque
Title: Geometria
Genre: Post-Black Metal
Country: Hungary / UK (Scotland)
Release date: 2018

Track List:
  1. Hajnali csillag
  2. Szamojéd freskó
  3. Töltés
  4. Gőte
  5. Sárember
  6. Hajó
  7. Lágyrész
  8. Sík
  9. Balra a nap
  10. Tenger, tenger
  11. Ének a búzamezőkről
A new release from my favourite Hungarian musician that now lives in Edinburgh but definitely remains one of the most important figures of the Hungarian avant-garde music scene. This album is even farther from black metal and closer to post-rock than "Meta" and "Sgùrr". While, unlike "Meta" it doesn't have such powerful tracks as "Mezolit", it still contains everything that we love Tamás Kátai's music for. There's also a little surprise for Russian speakers in the middle of the first track :)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Nimrud - "Arratu" [2017]

Artist: Nimrud
Title: Arratu
Genre: Post-Black Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2017

Track List:
  1. Shurru
  2. Epishtu
  3. Arratu
  4. Sarahu
  5. Ishkur
  6. Gamaru
The debut release from a very fine 5-piece post-metal collective from Moscow, with lyrics based on the Sumerian creation myths. The band was around since 2010, but for a quite long time, they were known for only one track ("Ishkur"), and one more ("Sarahu") released as a single in 2016. The full-length album, released in late 2017, is also rather short (but quite good anyway):

Friday, May 11, 2018

Губернатор - "Рождение Чукотки" [2010]

Artist: Губернатор
Title: Рождение Чукотки
Genre: Folk Rock
Country: Russia (Chukotka)
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Подружки
  2. Лооной
  3. Какомэй
  4. Почему (Колыбельная)
  5. Ночной дежурный
  6. За прошлую вину
  7. Тебе
  8. Лилия
  9. Посмотри-ка
  10. Утро в Снежном
  11. На берегу
  12. Рождение Чукотки
  13. Rock'n'roll instrumental
  14. Белая пастель (DJ Grey Trance Mix)
First off: it's really hard to find info about this band, mostly because of their highly Google-unfriendly name (really, the only worse idea than naming your band "Governor" is naming it "Ministry"). Some thing about them that are known for sure: they were formed in 2006 in Anadyr, the complete outskirts of the world. So far they're the only rock band to base their music on the folklore of Chukchi, the best known Paleo-Siberian ethnic group who are basically an archetype in popular culture for all ethnic groups of the Siberian Far North.

Although most if not all of the band members are Russians, their interpretations of Chukchi folk music are considered fairly authentic and have gained them a considerable fan base in their home region. Unfortunately, they aren't well-known outside of it, so finding information about them is a problem. I couldn't find even the cover art for this album, so there's a photo of their lead singer Veronika Oshulik instead.

Those who aren't familiar with the folk-rock bands that employ throat singing and similar vocal techniques, like Yat-Kha or Altan Urag (both of which were already mentioned on here before), may find the first few tracks on this album quite weird. However, that's how authentic Chukchi shamanic singing sounds like. Here's a video of Veronika performing it solo:


The rest of the album is more standard blues rock with less ethnic influences, with lyrics mostly in Russian. Not exactly my kind of music, but some of these tracks are quite nice, like this one (in this video, the lyrics are in Chukchi language, but the album version is in Russian):


Overall, they're a quite unique band and definitely deserve more recognition outside of their home region that they currently have. As far as I know, they're still active and perform live quite often (their biggest success so far was participating in a folk/ethno-rock festival in Italy), although the lineup has changed several times (I've even read that two of their members have died in an accident, but don't know if it's true). They have recorded 3 or 4 albums by now, but looks like that only two were properly released. If I manage to find out more about them (which is difficult due to above reasons), I'll update this post for sure.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dadhikra - "Vadul Odulnye Karawaalpe (Folktales Of The Yukaghir People)" [2015]

Artist: Dadhikra
Title: Vadul Odulnye Karawaalpe (Folktales Of The Yukaghir People)
Genre: Ritual Ambient, Field Recordings
Country: Russia
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Dorbu
  2. Longdol Circular Dance
  3. Loshiyaa, Loshiyaa, Ging, Ging, Ging
  4. Song Of The White Spirits Of The Light Way
I was browsing the Bandcamp page of one St. Petersburg-based label specialized in underground industrial and noise, and, to my surprise, found this:

"This work is based on the folktales of small Siberian nation - Yukaghirs. Dadhikra used the recordings of the karawaalpe Yukaghir folktales and traditional musical instruments: paydii, mumżerul, paydunube saal, niedjek chomuolben, čunžia, pukil’, łerkejeŋ, jerejepajdii, jonśe, wanna ajanaaŋ, pukol’urd’źe".

Since there's not much information about Yukaghir traditional music, apart from some recordings made during USSR times, this release is fairly unique. However, it's not your typical folk music album, and it's not easy to get into (I'd say it fits right in the catalogue of an industrial/noise label). Moreover, there's not much actual music: out of 4 tracks, two are spoken word recitals of folk tales (in Russian, but the words are not always easily decipherable). Overall, I'd recommend it to those who's into ritual music or just seeking something really weird, and if you're searching for more listenable Yukaghir-related material, the pop songs by Irina Duskulova are for you (she was thankful to me by posting her songs on here, by the way).

And speaking about the Yukaghir culture in general... well, it's considered to be moribund by many, and was considered to be so 100 years ago, yet it's still here and apparently isn't going anywhere (and I surely hope it won't!) There's something about this culture that makes it stand out of the other similar cultures of the Arctic, and some aspects of it seem be really ancient, perhaps going back in time as far as to the Mesolithic. It's also worth being mentioned that Yugaghirs have suprisingly many people with literal talent for such a small-numbered ethnic group, and they even are one of the very few cultures to independently develop a writing system - albeit a very specialized pictographic one (used mostly for writing love letters and letters of respect, as manyYukaghirs are too shy for telling such things openly), but still.