Wednesday, August 1, 2018

N-616 - "[ex​-​Planet Earth]" [2005]

Artist: N-616
Title: [ex​-​Planet Earth]
Genre: EBM, Dark Electro
Country: Russia
Release date: 2005

Track List:
  1. Bunker#616
  2. Production
  3. Monsters
  4. Front Line
  5. Consumption
  6. Last Conflict
  7. Civilization Of The Dawn
  8. Koniec
N-616 were formed in 2000 in Stavropol (according to other sources - in St.Petersburg) initially as a dark ambient / classical industrial project. After releasing their first demo "Snow", they incorporated more darkwave & EBM elements into their music on their second demo "Cold". Later on, these demos were released as a full-length album "Cold & Snow", which was released on Folvork Prods., a label that many readers of my blog probably are already familiar with. They continued going to the electro-industrial direction on their subsequent releases, "Electro Paradigm of Futurism", "Futurepolis", and this one, which came out in 2004 along with the EP "Winter World III". After that, the project went on a hiatus for more than a decade, but now they're active again, although they're better known for their other project called Eonic (new age / ambient).

While "[ex​-​Planet Earth]" might be not very interesting from the viewpoint of today's listener, and there's nothing particularly original or innovative, it was a groundbreaking release on the Russian industrial scene of the 2000s, where very few bands were played in this style before (the "boom" of harsh EBM / dark electro happened a couple years later). It also features design by D.I.Abigor (I used to read the blog of this guy several years ago), who's also responsible for the design of "Dolmen Factory" by Bad Sector and several albums by Velehentor.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Июльские Дни - "Колокол" [2016]

Artist: Июльские Дни
Title: Колокол
Genre: Post-Punk
Country: Russia
Release date: 2016

Track List:
  1. Не для меня
  2. Крутится-вертится
  3. Озеро и остров
  4. По ком звонит колокол
Here's probably the best known post-punk band from my city, named after the July Days of 1917 in Petrograd a/k/a St.Petersburg (by a coincidence, I've traveled there just several days ago, right on the 101st anniversary of these events). "Колокол" ("The Bell"; you can guess the translation by just looking at the cover, though) is their latest EP up to date, released in late 1916, and arguably the best. With all honestly, I think if there's one subgenre of rock where the Russian scene is good at, then it's post-punk/coldwave:


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):