Oh, how proud us Metalheads are while shouting how Metal knows no boundaries. Not to mention the everpresent screams about freedom of thought and speech. Believe it or not, Metal is a genre (like all the others) very much dependant of the world geopolitics. Don’t believe me? Just think of all the banned concerts, album covers and bands in general across the globe. Also, there was a time before it was cool to sing in your native language and English was as “official” on the Metal scene as it was on some political conference. Granted, Metal was created in English speaking countries, and the language was pretty much accepted as a global unifying factor.
And then some asshole decided to build a wall! Not to divide space in his own apartment or house. Hell no! It was built right across an entire city and it thus divided not just the city but an entire country. Fuck, it divided an entire continent! What ensued was the biggest penis measuring contest in the history of human kind. A certain philosopher from the same divided country would be very proud of the achieved. Speaking of which, something similar is about to happen across the ocean these days. Sounds familiar, right?
As the continent, so the Metal scene was divided. It had its infancy crippled by the “Iron curtain”. As a bonus, English language wasn’t taught on the eastern side of the continent, so the youth was even more crippled by a couple of overgrown chimps with itchy trigger fingers on some very dangerous buttons.
Now, Slavic people proved to be very resourceful, trying and often completing their goal not to fall behind their western counterparts. Bootleg releases, smuggled magazines… In short, illegal downloading before it was easy. And not only was it not easy, it actually was illegal and could bring some very serious consequences.
Unfortunately, this was a one-way route. It was a rare opportunity when a band from the “eastern block” managed to break the borders. Even illegal. Which brings me to Ария, a band that was born behind the wall, back in 1985.
“Гость из царства теней” is a live album, recorded in Moscow during a concert that might just be called a regular spectacle! Seriously, this double CD comes with a video recording of the concert and, trust me, it is well worth your time and money. Brilliant stage performance from a couple of old boys who still manage to “own” a stage as if they just began their career. The stage setting is world class, worthy of comparison with names such as Iron Maiden. I’m not kidding, this is everything a high-end Metal concert has to be. Performing in front of a full arena, Ария decidedly proves, beyond reasonable doubt, that they are the biggest name on the Russian Rock pedestal.
To disclose what Ария is all about, I can say they draw much of their influences from NWOBHM (the mentioned Maiden or Angel Witch) and some from German traditional Heavy Metal (Running Wild with their pirate themes or Grave Digger). Hard rocking tunes are present as well in some parts and that is mostly everything. Ария delves within the limits of those genres and they are, obviously, very good at it. Every aspect is respected and nothing is left out. You have epic tunes resembling the legendary Iron Maiden long running songs, you get heavy riffing such as the German legends, imaginative drum patterns, playful bass guitar and solos that simply kill. All of that topped by a magnificent vocal performance which covers a variety of topics, like the mentioned pirates, nuclear crisis, satanic rituals, history or the typical Heavy Metal lifestyle. Each and every Metal fan must be completely satisfied with the entirety of this release.
In conclusion, these guys were youngsters that took a big risk back in the day to hear what the west was up to. They have probably missed a chance at stardom on a global level (luckily, Russia is a huge and mostly still unexplored market for Heavy Metal) but it is high time the west returns the favour. Now that the wall has collapsed. Or has it?