Krow Za Krow (Blood for Blood)
Released: 1991, Moroz
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
Don’t let them fool you, kiddies. The Commies are still alive and well in the Kremlin, for why else would Russia’s Aria be kept from the rest of the world for so long? Hahaha…
Though I had know of Aria for several years, thanks to a small buzz along the underground of the internet, I had never had the opportunity to score one of their albums. After the band called it quits earlier this year following a career spanning nearly 20 years, Aria’s catalog is now known and available to me, either through fortune or a stroke of irony.
Krow Za Krow is Aria’s fifth album, and the best of their consistent quality studio works. Contained within the album’s 40-minute span is certainly the finest metal ever to come from Russia, a diverse collection of 8 songs of classic, true heavy metal in the vein of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.
“Proschay, Norfolk!” (Farewell, Norfolk) breaks the album wide open its fast pace and a chorus that will stick in your head for weeks, despite Aria’s lyrics being entirely in Russian. Vladimir Holstinin and Sergey Mavrin trade guitar licks with enough leads to make any fan of Maiden or Priest happy. I’m hooked before the song is halfway over, and I am compelled to sing along, though I do not understand Russian. “Zombi” is up next, slowing down to a mid-paced classic metal track. Vitaly Dubinin’s work on the bass is prominent and catchy, just as it should be in any worthy metal band. “Antikhrist,” as one might suspect, is a dark song, starting out slow and ominous before breaking into a nice bass/riff combination, after which follows about a half a dozen solos. By this track, Valery Kipelov has demonstrated the full range and power of his vocal delivery. Valery’s voice reminds me somewhat of Hansi Kursch, especially when he screams; though Valery’s delivery is smoother and more melodic.
Halfway through the CD are my two favourite tracks from this album of standout tunes. “Ne Khochesh, Ne Very Mne” is an ultra-fast track, reminiscent of something off Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son. Holstinin and Mavrin are easily the equal of other legendary guitar duos like Murray/Smith and Tipton/Downing. Alex Manyakin pounds the skins with intensity as this track gallops along. The title track, clocking in at nearly 8 minutes. Again, I find myself trying to sing along with the chorus. “Krow Za Krow” is somewhat of an epic track, broken down into a mid-paced opening, a slow ballad/acoustic interlude, and a closing segment that is guaranteed to flatten the listener with its intensity.
“Vesy” (Demons) has some great melodic hooks, but at just over three minutes in length, it is over before it really gets started. The one ballad on the disc, “Vse, Chto Bilo” (All That Have Been) is a prime example of writing ballads that do not suck. Closing out the disc is “Sleduy Za Mnoi!” (Follow Me), a hard-hitting track closing the album on a powerful note.
My only complaints about the albums are matters of personal taste. The mix of the album is very good, neither too raw nor over-polished, but in some places, it sounds a bit “loose” and uneven. In addition, the liner notes are virtually non-existent. I wish the lyrics (even in Russian) were included. Musically, I can find no other fault with the album.
KROW ZA KROW is an excellent piece of melodic classic metal. I urge every metalhead reading this review to look into the amazing band that is Aria. The musicianship is excellent, and the songs are catchy and well written. Do not hesitate to pick this album up.