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Welicoruss – Az Esm

by Vjeran

 

Welicoruss
  1. Intro
  2. Az Esm`
  3. Voice of the Millennium
  4. Sons of the North
  5. Woloshba
  6. Fires of Native Lands
  7. Bridge of Hope
  8. Dolmen
  9. Kharnha
  10. Fragments of Forgotten Dreams
  11. Outsider
  12. Az Esm` – Epilogue

Izdravač: Independent

Godina: 2015

„Ruski nikada nije zvučao ovako dobro u metalu“, misli su koje su mi se pojavile u glavi tijekom prvog slišanja albuma. Naravno, i sam sam svjestan postojanja megapopularne Arkone, čija je popularnost poprilično opala na ovom području kroz proteklu godinu zbog pjesme koja se pozabavila vrlo nepopularnom tematikom. Time se otvorio prostor za novi omiljeni ruski bend hrvatske publike. Jedan od sigurnih kandidata je i WELICORUSS, Češki bend čiji se inicijator, pjevač Alexey Boganov iz Sibira, doselio u Češku Republiku jer je smatrao da je bend dostigao vrhunac svojih mogučnosti u istočnoj Rusiji. Iako su oba benda ruski bendovi te je jezik sam po sebi privlačan faktor za mnoge, Arkona i WELICORUSS su potpuno različiti bendovi koji dijele povremene sličnosti kao što su paganski elementi, no bez obzira na njihovo ime, neopoganski nacionalistički elementi, barem na ovom albumu, nisu prisutni kod WELICORUSSa. Zaista je sjajno slušati pagan metal koji ne pripada steretipičnom prikazu predvidljivog black/pagan benda. Elementi koji ovaj bend čine nepredviljivijim su češća upotreba clean vokala u odnosu na growl, upotreba orkestracija, instrumenata kao što je didgeridoo, gajde te nevjerojatni prijelazi između pjesama o kojima će biti nešto više govora u daljnjem tekstu.

Tema većine pjesama na ovom albumu povezana je s elementima daleke mitološke prošlosti, no ono po čemu se WELICORUSS ističu od sličnih bendova je u činjenici da se fokusiraju na aspekt prirode te skrivenih misterija i tajnih moći svemira“ i po metaforičkim i dubokim tekstovima koji se mogu interpretirati na bezbroj načina, za razliku od tipičnih pjesama karaktera himni s tematikom bogova, ratova i sl. Želio bih istaknuti pjesmu „Bridge of Hope“ kao najbolji primjer za neke od ovih prethodno spomenutih pozitivnih karakteristika.

Što se glazbe tiče, na početku se čini kako je sve na svome mjestu i jako dobro osmišljeno, no radi se o albumu kod kojeg se do zamjerki dolazi tek nakon više slušanja. Evidentno je da je mnogo truda uloženo u album koji je odlično zamišljen, no krajnji rezultat nije nužno baš najbolji. Aspekt koji najviše upada u oči je miksanje, koje je moglo biti bolje obavljeno. Čini se kako nedostaje dubokih frekvencija, a bass gitara je adekvatno glasna samo u djelovima gdje je naglašena, dok u orkestriranijim djelovima pjesama pomalo dolazi do buke. Problem buke, kada se govori o toliko mnogo kanala za miksanje, doduše nije lako rješiv, a standardi koji su postavljeni, postavljeni su od strane bendova s velikim budžetom kao što je Nightwish i slični. S vremena na vrijeme  pojavi se poneki bend koji uspije napraviti jako dobru produkciju uz relativno mali budžet kao što je Wintersun sa svojim Time I albumom gdje vidimo tu koheziju između orkestracija i benda koja nije postignuta o dovoljnoj mjeri na ovom albumu.

To naravno ne znači da je album muzički loš! Želio bih istaknuti nevjerojatne prijelaze između pjesama gdje se može čuti nevjerojatna mistična snaga ruskog jezika u kombinaciji s: predivnim zvukovima prirode i didgeridooa, akustične gitare s utjecajima flamenca i različitim pjevačima i naratorima. Prijelazi su pomalo i dvosjekli mač s obzirom na to da ometaju dinamiku albuma, no kada ih ne bi bilo, album bi izgubio jedan od boljih atributa, tako da se blago žrtvovanje dinamike radi atmosfere i estetike isplatilo. Vrijedi spomenuti i odlične gostujuće vokale na pjesmama kao što su „Kharnha“ i osobito na baladi „Fires of Native Lands“, koju bih posebno istaknuo kao vrhunac albuma. Izolirano gledajući, bend sam po sebi zvuči odlično, gitare i bubnjevi su veoma zanimljivo i ukusno odsvirani, dok glavni vokal pomalo oscilira, od jako zanimljivog pjevanja, do pomalo nenadahnutog.

Moje mišljenje o albumu u cijelosti je da se definitivno album isplati preslušati ako volite ovakvu vrstu glazbe, no glazbeni puristi i konzervativniji obožavatelji paganskog i folk metala mogli bi pronaći ponešto razloga za kritiku. Album je našao svoje mjesto na mom mp3 playeru na duži period, no morat ću se pomiriti sa činjenicom da ću se morati pozabaviti ekvalizatorom  pri svakom budućem preslušavanju.

 

 ENGLISH

“Russian has never sounded this good in metal music“, my thoughts on hearing this band for the first time. Of course, I am aware of a megapopular band called Arkona, whose popularity has extremely dropped throughout the last year in this area for writing a song about a certain unpopular subject in the Balkans. That certainly left a room for a new favourite Russian band for Croats to pick. It might as well be WELICORUSS, a Czech based band whose mastermind, the singer, Alexey Boganov is from Siberia, but moved to Czech Republic because he felt that the band had reached its maximum of possibilities in the eastern Russia. Even though the both bands are Russian, and the language itself is something that appeals to a lot of people, Arkona and WELICORUSS are completely different bands which do have an occasional similarity, such as some pagan elements, but regardless of their name, the neopagan nationalistic elements are left aside by the WELICORUSS, in this album at least. It felt great listening to a pagan metal band that doesn’t fit into the stereotype of a predictable black pagan band. Elements which make this band unpredictable is the more extensive use of clean vocals than the use of growl, and the use of orchestrations, instruments such as didgeridoo, bagpipes and the amazing transitions in between the songs that i will further attend to later on.

The theme of the most of the WELICORUSS songs on this album is connected to the elements of the distant mythological past, but what makes them different from their contemporary counterparts, is the fact that they „admire Nature and search for the hidden mysteries and secret powers of Universe“*, instead of the typical anthem-like songs with thematics such as gods, wars etc, and that their highly metaphorical and, in some places, very profound lyrics could truly be interpreted in countless ways. I would like to accentuate the song „Bridge of Hope“ as a prime example of some of the characteristics I pointed out earlier.

Music-wise, it first seemed that this album was very tight, very well put and thought out, but every time I went back to it, I found another remark. There is obviously a lot of effort put into this album and the idea is amazing, but I am not to sure about the end result. The aspect that seemed to bother me the most is that I felt that the mixing could have been done better. It seems that all the songs have a lack of bottom end, and the bass guitar is well audible only in the emphasized parts, while there is some noise present in the parts where there is a lot going on orchestrally. That is not an easy problem to resolve, and it is reasonable why the big budget bands such as Nightwish manage to do it much more successfully than the lower budget ones. Still there are examples such as Wintersun’s Time I, where the cohesion between the orchestrations and the band was accomplished much more successfully.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the album is musically bad! What needs to be pointed out are the incredible transitions between the songs, in which the amazing mystic power of the Russian language in combination with amazing sounds from nature and the sounds of didgeridoo, acoustic flamenco-style guitar and different singers and narrators can be heard. This is a bit of a double edged sword since it deeply influences the flow of the album, but it would be a great loss if they weren’t included regardless of the side effect. These transitions set the mood for the album which is its key element. Another factor worth pointing out is the great usage different guest vocals in songs such as „Kharnha“ and especially the ballad, „Fires of Native Lands“, which I would particularly pinpoint as the best moment of the album. The band itself sounds great, guitars and drums are very tastefully played, while the lead vocal oscillates a bit, from extremely interesting to a bit uninspired.

My overall opinion about this album is that it is definitely an album worth listening through if you like this kind of music, but a lot of musical purists could find some remarks, along with the more conservative members of the pagan and folk metal community. It has earned its place on my mp3 player on the long run, but I will have to reconcile with the fact that i have to mess with the equalizer a bit every time I listen to it.

*Taken from the band’s press release

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