Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

One more year has passed, and I still have no idea why I continue to waste my time on a blog that has nearly no readers. Anyway, a little practice in English won't hurt, and arguably the best way of doing it is writing about something you're genuinely interested in (music, in my case).

It isn't in my habit to post "best of the X year" album lists, so I'll just make a wish that the coming year will be better than the passing one for everyone who reads my blog - and for me, of course. The second half of 2015 was pretty bad for me, and while I don't have much hopes for 2016 either, the life still goes on. Right now I'm playing WoW (without much enthusiasm, though) and wait for the new year to come...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Легион - "Апокалипсис" [1986]

Artist: Легион
Title: Апокалипсис
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: USSR
Release date: 1986

Track List:
  1. Апокалипсис (instrumental)
  2. Легион
  3. Мир под cекретом
  4. Мираж
  5. Осень (Листопад)
  6. Волшебник
  7. Чемпион
  8. S.O.S. 
Легион/Legion were one of the first Soviet metal bands, if not the very first. There's some confusion regarding the year when they were formed - 1979 or 1981, depending on source. The most reliable guess is that the band was around in some form since 1979, but the solid line-up was established in 1981, when Alexey Bulgakov joined them as a vocalist (his vocals were and still are the strongest side of Legion).

This demo tape, called "Apocalypse", came out in 1986 but, like in case with the year or formation, I don't know for sure when these songs were written and recorded. All these songs (except for the intro) were re-recorded in better quality for the "Best Of 1980-1987" compilation that came out in 1997, and according to its release notes, tracks #3, #4 and #6 are from 1980. Well, if they were playing anything like this in 1980-1981, then they definitely were the first band in the USSR whose music was unquestionably metal. Metal recordings made in USSR before 1985 were very scarce, and most of them sound more like mid-70's hard rock than their NWOBHM contemporaries. This demo, on the other hand, is 100% NWOBHM-style metal. Legion also are rumoured to have an earlier demo titled "Битва" (Fight), which was recorded either in 1981 or 1984, but it's nowhere to be found (Legion's official site is of no help too), so we can only wonder what it sounded like...

Legion's first live show took place in 1984 and resulted in a scandal - apparently because they were more heavier and had more provocative lyrics than other Soviet rock bands of that time (but pretty average by NWOBHM standards). The band is still very active today, but they're too stereotypically "old school metal" for my taste. This recording, however, deserves attention due to its historical importance, and even its poor quality of production helped to preserve the spirit of that time (if you want these songs recorded in better quality, search for the 1997 compilation I mentioned above). Like many 70's and early 80's Soviet rock tapes, it was released without a cover, but you can have a band photo instead:

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Фронт - "Металлизация XXV" [2012]

Artist: Фронт
Title: Металлизация XXV
Genre: Industrial Thrash Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2012

Track List:
  1. Мы победим!
  2. Железный кулак
  3. Готовность №1
  4. Мрачные стены
  5. Колыбельная
  6. Ультиматум
  7. Решётка
  8. Металлизация
Фронт/Front were one of the first thrash metal bands in the USSR, and almost certainly the first to record a full-length thrash metal album there ("Металлизация '1987"). This is a re-recorded version of that historical album, released 25 years after. You may notice that, while still being thrash metal in its core, this album sounds quite "Rammstein-esque". That's because the band became seriously influenced by then-nascent Neue Deutsche Haerte movement during the mid-90s (probably one of the first to do that in Russia as well, in addition to being the pioneers of USSR thrash metal). The original 1987 version of the album can be found here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

НХЛ - "Антрэпология" [1999]

Artist: НХЛ
Title: Антрэпология
Genre: Aggro-Industrial
Country: Russia
Release date: 1999

Track List:
  1. Континенты
  2. Идентификация
  3. Изнеможение
  4. Иммунитет
  5. Атрибуты
  6. Боже Царя...
  7. Ночь
  8. Человечество
НХЛ/NHL were formed in my city by Andrey Bugrov (songwriting, vocals, guitar, keyboards, drum programming) and Sergey Katorgin (solo guitar) in late 1994. Initially they played noisy post-punk which was common in Russian underground scene back then, but by late 1990s their sound gradually became more heavier. Unless I'm not aware of something, they were the first aggro-industrial band from my home region (it isn't like there are many of them anyway...) The band themselves described their style as "pseudo-social post-industrial sympho-punk" (whatever it means), and mentioned Ministry, NIN, Rammstein and Lacrimosa among the bands that have inspired them.

NHL split up circa 2002, but Andrey Bugrov released a couple more albums under this name during 2003-2005 (which are nowhere near as good the ones from 1990s, though). This cassette is probably the best release in their discography, although the previous one ("Флаг на щеке" '98) was pretty good too. It was recorded during the time when the members of NHL were getting into rapcore, so the hip-hop influence on the vocal work is quite prominent (hence the name of the release, "AnthRAPology"). It's also said to feature female vocals by Olga Shestaeva, but honestly I can't heard any. The quality of sound on the master tape was quite good, but this only rip I could find on the net is of rather poor quality (but still listenable). My personal favourite is the track #5 ("Attributes"). For those who's interested, the rest of their discography can be found here.

Рок-Синдром - s/t EP [1987]

Artist: Рок-Синдром
Title: Рок-Синдром '87
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: USSR
Release date: 1987

Track List:
  1. Рок-синдром
  2. Чёрная мгла
  3. Война
Now here's probably the first metal band from my city. Рок-Синдром / Rock Syndrome were formed in 1986 (the same year I was born) as a 5-pice band, and on 30th October the same year they took part in the 1st official rock festival in the city (where they were the heaviest band). During 1987 they undergone several lineup changes before finally splitting up. Here's a photo of the original 5 members:

In 1998, Sergey Gorbunov (the original vocalist and guitarist) decided to reform the band. Nowadays they reside in Moscow and consist mainly of Sergey Gorbunov (vocals, guitars) and Alena Poltavskaya (fretless bass guitar), as well as some additional live members:

As for this demo EP, I must admit it's only of historical interest nowadays, although the quality of recording isn't that horrible (yet it's still bad, especially when it comes to vocals, but it's understandable given the circumstances). Collectors of rare Motorhead-like metal from the 1980s should pay attention.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Август - "Концерт в ДК им. Кирова" [1983]

Artist: Август
Title: Концерт в ДК им. Кирова
Genre: Melodic Hard Rock, Hard'n'Heavy
Country: USSR
Release date: 1983

Track List:
  1. Instrumental
  2. Intro
  3. Где ты, детство
  4. Австралия
  5. Музыка льётся
  6. Посвящение другу
  7. У моря 
  8. Instrumental II
  9. Часы
  10. Обгоняй
  11. Помни
  12. Intro II
  13. Август
  14. Торопись
  15. Желаю вам
Август/August were one of the first metal bands in USSR (first played together in 1982, you can guess in which month) and also the first Soviet band to play on an international metal festival (Metalmania-1988 in Katovice, Poland, where they shared the stage with Kreator and Rage). The band still exists today, although none of the initial members have left in their lineup.

Since mid-1980 they started to play melodic heavy metal inspired by Accept (which you probably already have figured out by just looking at their logo ;)) and Whitesnake, but on these early recordings they played melodic hard'n'heavy/progressive rock that a lot of Western bands were playing in mid-1970 (back then, most of Western trends in music usually reached the USSR scene with a 5-7 years lag). Don't know if this recording can be counted as metal, because there aren't too many "heavy" songs and no provocative lyrics whatsoever, but then again, terms like "hard rock" and "heavy metal" are usually viewed as interchangeable if applied to the 1970s' rock scene. Eitherway, this is an interesting rare example of a hard rock/metal recording in pre-1985 USSR, and its quality is fairly good (given it's a live recording made more than 30 years ago). Love the sound of these old analog synthesizers, which even reminds me of "The Martian Chronicles" by Solaris at times.

(sorry if this file host sucks)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Вой - "Кругами Вечности" [1991]

Artist: Вой
Title: Кругами Вечности
Genre: Funeral Doom Metal
Country: USSR
Release date: 1991

Track List:
  1. Симфония “Black”
  2. Мой мир
  3. Третий круг Ада
  4. Формула воззвания
  5. Магический круг
Release notes:

"Originally recorded in December 1990, in Moscow. Mediocre sound quality versions were circulating on tapes since early 1991, copied from tape to tape to tape to tape until it was hardly recognizable. Circles of Eternity was NEVER officially released until April 2nd, 2012. Official CD edition is not remastered and keeps this historical recording authentic in the best possible sound quality."

This obscure trio got together in 1988 with an intention of playing more gloomy and experimental kind of metal than the traditional heavy metal bands that dominated the USSR scene at that time, taking inspiration mainly from Venom and Celtic Frost. In a way, their story resembles the story of Bathory: both bands were heavily inspired by Venom at first, and both became one of the pioneering bands in their respective genres by simply playing what they could. The only differences are that Bathory were pioneers of black metal and became an internationally renowned act, while Вой were one of the first funeral doom metal bands and remained almost completely unknown to the general public until recently, when their former frontman Alexey Lapshin gave an interview to the Assault Crew webzine. Shortly after that, their only full-length album was released on CD by Sublimity Records.

There was at least one more release from them, titled "Дети чумы", which was recorded at a bakery in 1989. It was roughly 40 minutes long, and all its copies seem to be lost by now (or maybe the former Вой's members don't want to release it to the public due to the low quality of production, but nobody knows for sure). If it had the same kind of sound as on this album, then it means Вой were unquestionably the first funeral doom metal band in the world. Even this album was released in 1991, same year as Thergothon's first demo "Fhtagn-nagh Yog-Sothoth" which is widely regarded as one of seminal releases in funeral doom scene. Samael, whose early demos (1988-89) are also considered to be proto-funeral doom by some people, have visited Moscow around the same time "Кругами Вечности" was recorded, so it's entirely possible that Вой were inspired by Samael too, along with their better known countrymen Celtic Frost. Another Swiss band, Mordor, is also often mentioned as one of the pioneering acts in funeral doom metal, but I doubt the members of Вой have heard their 1991 demo.

"Кругами Вечности" wasn't well received by the public at the time it was released, which is completely not suprising. The band did only 5 or so live performances and then split up. Alexey Lapshin later (in May 1992) went on forming an industrial band called "Crunch". The existence of Вой went almost completely unnoticed back in these times when the whole experimental music scene in former USSR was in decline due to sever economical and societal problems - they were mentioned only a couple of times in metal press in 1992. While the quality of production on "Кругами Вечности" is obviously far from perfect, and the lyrics are mostly centered around the standard occult bullshit, it's still a very interesting artefact of its time, much more interesting that the majority of modern funeral doom albums.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Kauan - "Sorni Nai" [2015]

Artist: Kauan
Title: Sorni Nai
Genre: Atmospheric Doom Metal, Post-Rock
Country: Russia
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. akva
  2. kit
  3. khurum
  4. nila
  5. at
  6. khot
  7. sat
To finish with the topic of Finno-Ugric music, here's a recently released album of a band from Urals (Chelyabinsk) named Kauan (just like one of the best Tenhi albums, right). I don't know if the band members have Finno-Ugric ancestry, but at least I don't know any other Russian metal band whose lyrics are entirely in Finnish. However, this particular album is named after a creature in Mansi mythology, and the track names are just their numbers in Mansi language. The music on "Sorni Nai" is post-rock for the most part, but it's still heavy enough to be counted as metal. Many metal review sites have praised this album as a masterpiece, and while I won't call it as such, I still can say that I enjoyed it a lot and I hope you'll do so too.

Second To Sun - "The First Chapter" [2015]

Artist: Second To Sun
Title: The First Chapter
Genre: Progressive/Math Metal, Post-Black Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Spirit Of Kusoto
  2. Red Snow
  3. Me Or Him
  4. Land Of The Fearless Birds
  5. The Blood Libel
  6. Narčat
  7. Virgo Mitt
  8. Chokk Kapper (Bonus Track)
  9. Narčat (Demo Version, Bonus Track)
A full-length alfum from S2S, following their "Three Fairy Tales" EP which I posted here not long ago. While the cover art betrays the band's "core" roots, and their music still can be considered mathcore/"modern metal", there's a clear influence of atmospheric black metal on "The First Chapter", and Vladimir Klimov-Lehtinen himself insists on calling his music "black metal". As much as I dislike his pretentious and arrogant attitude (which shows up in this discussion, for instance), it's sadly not uncommon among both progressive metal and black metal musicians, and it doesn't stop me from enjoying the music itself.

Like the earlier S2S releases, "The First Chapter" is entirely instrumental, but each track is supposed to be based on some story from the history of Finno-Ugric peoples. Not sure if F/U-themed metal is really becoming popular on here, as some people say, but S2S surely made a good contribution to that scene.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Messier - "Rõõmurikkuja" [1998]

Artist: Messier
Title: Rõõmurikkuja
Genre: Neofolk
Country: Estonia
Release date: 1998

Track List:
  1. Rõõmurikkuja
  2. Hani
  3. Keskaja kaitseks
  4. Vahepala
  5. Enne hommikut
  6. Hoge jage
  7. Kui nad olid...
  8. Lõpu lugu
A really obscure neofolk oddity from the 1990's Estonia. This is a cassette demo which I found in this blog (a very good one, by the way). The music is quite nice to my ears even despite the low production quiality, but I don't even know what to think about these vocals... Anyway, if you're interested, you can find the download links in the blog that I mentioned above.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lydia Loginova / Лидия Логинова

I've saved the best of obscure Finno-Ugric folk/pop music for the last, and this best is Lydia Loginova from Komi Republic. She starded to sing at least 30 years ago and managed to become one of the most popular artists in her home region, while remaining almost completely unknown to the outside world. It's an injustice because her songs are some of the best Finno-Ugric folk I've heard so far (she's even better than Marina Sadova, I think).

Don't know if she released any proper albums, but I made a compilation of the best songs I could find (I'm sure she has more, though). Very beautiful music, much more "folk" than "pop". She's also said to have the ideal Komi pronunciation, which might be useful for those who plan or currently are learning the language (I heavily doubt there are many of such enthusiasts, though...)

(not sure about that, but one of the songs in the archive (the last one) might be actually performed by Victoria Pystina, who has a similar voice and manner of singing)

Tatyana Solovyeva / Татьяна Соловьева

Here's some more Finno-Ugric pop/folk that caught my attention recently. I couldn't find much info about Tatyana Solovyeva on the net (mostly because her name is too common here), yet I managed to find out that she's a writer and a singer living in Yoshkar-Ola. Her live performance videos are hard to find too, but here you can have one:
Looks like she has a full-length album consisting of 19 tracks, but I couldn't find it anywhere, so I'll just post all her songs I managed to find by a quick search. The quality of production is varied, but it's fairly good for the most part. Genre-wise, it's just pop music with some hints of folk melodies, but it's the best Mari pop I've heard so far (apart from Marina Sadova's songs). This is also the closest thing to my Hungarian pop/folk favourites like Nox that I could find near me.

Anna Tulla - "Lembi" [2010]

Artist: Anna Tulla
Title: Lembi
Genre: Folk/Pop
Country: Russia (Karelia)
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Armaz
  2. Elämä on ihana
  3. Ilman sinua
  4. Ilta
  5. Kaunis valhe
  6. Ken om värnik?
  7. Missä ikinä oletkaan
  8. Miun rakkahus
  9. Ruskei kudžu
  10. Tahon
  11. Tarjoilijatyttö
  12. Tiedän sen
  13. Tule rannale
  14. Tyhjiä kujia
  15. Uuši vuosi
Like in case with Ladi Sveti's EP which I posted yesterday, this album is mostly just plain pop music which I have little interest in, but I'm posting it for a different reason. You'll have a hard time searching for another album which has songs with lyrics in Vepsian and Livvi-Karelian languages, and that's what makes "Lembi" unique.

Anna Tulla was formed in 2007 in Petrozavodsk (Karelia) with a purpose to create popular music with lyrics in minor Northern Finno-Ugric languages (primarily Karelian and Vepsian). Only few people speak these languages nowadays, especially few younger ones, so the members of Anna Tulla decided to focus on club-friendly pop music that might appeal to the young crowd, rather than playing authentic folk which few young people listen to. The line-up of the band has changed over years. In 2010, Anna Tulla was led by two vocalists: Daria Kuznetsova (Karelian) and Yulia Maximova (Vepsian). The band doesn't seem to be active anymore, as they haven't released anything after "Lembi", and Daria now lives in Helsinki.

About 1/3 of songs on "Lembi" have lyrics in Finnish, and the rest are in Vepsian, Livvi-Karelian, or Karelian proper (track #9 has some verses in Russian). I personally found the tracks in Vepsian and Livvi-Karelian to be the most interesting, as the proper Karelian language is just way too similar to Finnish (especially the eastern dialects). There's no full download of "Lembi" anywhere, but you can listen to the whole album of the band's official site.

Here's also a small photo shoot of Daria and Yulia which was taken the same year "Lembi" was released (Yulia is the one wearing a purple jacket and a light blue dress, while Daria wears a red top and a short blue skirt). I think Daria's looks are more appealing to me (although I've looked into Yulia's more recent photos, and they're quite beautiful too). Daria also has very beautiful legs:

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ladi Sveti - "Веръя" [2015]

Artist: Ladi Sveti
Title: Веръя
Genre: Folk/Pop
Country: Russia (Udmurtia)
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Веръя
  2. Пӧяд
  3. Шузимемын
 Ladi Sveti is the stage name of Svetlana Ruchkina, the voice of Silent Woo Goore. Unfortunately for those who liked the "rock" side of her creative output, her solo works are just pop with some Udmurt folk influences (not much, to be honest). However, while I can't describe is as "great" or awesome", it isn't the worst kind of pop music out there (as someone has described it, "imagine Moloko singing in Udmurt language), and it's surely better than most other Udmurt pop I've heard so far (for some reason, the Udmurt folk/pop scene isn't as impressive as the Mari one). "Веръя" is a maxi-single containing 3 original tracks and 3 remixes which weren't included in here.

Silent Woo Goore - "Питырес" [2015]

Artist: Silent Woo Goore
Title: Питырес
Genre: Folk-Rock
Country: Russia (Udmurtia)
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Питырес
I'm promised to post some more obscure Finno-Ugric music until the end of this year, and let me start with a new single from Silent Woo Goore. I really liked their debut "Toleźe" (2012), and having at least one new track from them after 3 years of waiting is nice for sure. Like their earlier songs, this one is heavily influenced by Udmurt folk music, and the lyrics are about how "everyone and everything has its time, and we are all subject to the passage of time" (if I understood the release notes correctly).

Thursday, December 10, 2015

félperc - "destructible world" [2009]

Artist: félperc
Title: destructible world
Genre: Post-Rock
Country: Hungary
Release date: 2009

Track List:
  1. and then they pushed the button
  2. clouds are fading away
  3. destructible world
  4. i can't see the future
  5. they should probably be dead by now
  6. over
For some reason, today seems to be a good day for reviewing releases from 2009, and here's an interesting discovery from Szombathely, Hungary. I decided to download this album solely because of its cover art and wasn't disappointed - while it might be not quite not as impressive as the debut album of Képzelt Város which was released the same year, it's still one of the best post-rock releases I've listened to as of late, and it does have that "spacey" atmosphere which I love in Hungarian instrumental prog-rock and post-rock. Sadly, it looks like the only member of Félperc has abandoned the project long time ago, as there were no new releases since 2010.

Kriminaaliset Metsänhaltijat ‎- "Koskemattomuus" [2009]

Artist: Kriminaaliset Metsänhaltijat
Title: Koskemattomuus
Genre: Harsh Noise, Power Electronics
Country: Karelia
Release date: 2009

Track List:
  1. Perkele!
  2. Koskemattomuus
  3. Tiedustelija
  4. Äänisen Aallot I
  5. Äänisen Aallot II
  6. Totalitaarinen Valtio
  7. Elämä Juoksuhaudoissa I
  8. Elämä Juoksuhaudoissa II
  9. Odotan Maailmanloppua
If I understand correctly, this release by Kriminaaliset Metsänhaltijat is some sort of a follow-up to their "Valkoinen Terrori", recorded in 2001 and released 8 years later. While "Valkoinen Terrori" was inspired by Finnish Civil War, "Koskemattomuus" seems to be inspired by the later events of Winter War and the Continuation War, and it definitely doesn't glorify such sort of events (which makes KM's attitudes resembling those of Brandkommando). This release also includes attempts of "deconstructing" some old Finnish military-related songs, in the same manner as Toroidh dealt with "Ack Värmeland Du Sköna" by Jussi Björling:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Kriminaaliset Metsänhaltijat ‎– "Valkoinen Terrori" [2009]

Artist: Kriminaaliset Metsänhaltijat
Title: Valkoinen Terrori
Genre: Harsh Noise, Power Electronics
Country: Karelia
Release date: 2009

Track List:
  1. Raja, 1918
  2. Riitakysymys
  3. Hukka
  4. Kuolemaantuomitun Hyvästijättö
  5. Valkoinen Terrori
  6. Punainen Ja Valkoinen
  7. Moment Of Silence
Kriminaaliset Metsänhaltijat are (were?) a very obscure harsh noise collective from Karelia (no idea if they're from the Russian or the Finnish part of that region). Almost everything is known about them (not too much, admittedly) is gathered on this page. If it's to be believed, they have 3 anonymous members and define their style as follows:

"Raw old-school industrial on the bones of SPK and THROBBING GRISTLE through the prism of Japanese harsh-noise and Finnish hardcore-punk. Nihilistic nightmare. Diffused synth hiss, pretentious harsh-noise arcades, crispy scurfy hateful power-electronics. Another spit into the face of rotten society and shitty system. There were a few closed gigs. Also, loads of recordings were made. Most of them have been destroyed. Some parts of tapes full of piss and vinegar have just been lost or erased during terrible hangovers. All that have been saved - works from 1997 and later. Those are sounds recorded on our 4-track. The sounds of sick buzz in our heads. Torn apart sheets of iron and stone walls of slaughterhouses spattered with blood. This is the shit rubbed in the silk white sheets of modern industrial. This is the true old-school noise! No modern bullshit and nazi crap!"

According to the same Discogs page, this particular cassette was recorded in 1999 but released only 10 years after (40 physical copies). Side B is said to be completely silent (hence the name "Moment Of Silence", but the only rip of "Valkoinen Terrori" I could find has it as a lengthy noise track. As a whole, it's easily one of the best underground noise releases I've heard so far, and the samples of old Finnish songs (the title track, for example) are nice too. Judging from the track names, the album is dedicated to the events of Finnish civil war of 1918. The band name means something like "Criminal Keepers of the Forest" (a reference to some partisans, maybe, but I don't know for sure). Expect much more obcure Finno-Urgic music to be reviewed on here in the near future, although it'll be nowhere near as noisy as KM.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Second To Sun - "Three Fairy Tales" [2014]

Artist: Second To Sun
Title: Three Fairy Tales
Genre: Avant-Garde Metal, Blackened Deathcore, Post-Black Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2014

Track List:
  1. The Trapper
  2. Merämaa
  3. Barmaley
Just like Thy Catafalque, Second To Sun is an avant-garde metal project whose genre can be loosely defined as "post-black metal". Both are basically one-man projects (with a revolving door of collaborators), and both were started by someone with Finno-Ugric roots. However, S2S is heavily influenced by modern progressive metalcore, which can't be said about TC. The first full-length release from S2S, "Based On A True Story", was more or less typical modern metalcore/deathcore, while the later releases (including this one) are more influenced by the avant-garde black metal scene. The mastermind of S2S, Vladimir Klimov-Lehtinen, also has an expiremental black metal/noise project called Voivotus, which I'll review a little later.

Just like other releases by S2S, "Three Fairy Tales" is influenced by Karelian folklore, and it essentially is a compilation of singles released by the band on Bandcamp. All three tracks are instrumental, if some spoken word samples don't count. You can listen to "Three Fairy Tales" here, and read a bit more elaborate review of it here.