Released: 2011, StormSpell Records
Just for a brief moment back in 2011, StormSpell Records stepped outside of their classic/traditional/power Metal realm and issued a pair of albums by female fronted, gothic, symphonic, Power Metal bands from Russia. One band is Solar the other is Narwhal Tusk and both are excellent albums, demonstrating the labels good ear for signing different styles and perhaps expanding their repertoire.
Solar is the bit more exotic band for a Western Canadian like myself, primarily because the lyrics and vocals are in Russian. The quintet is from Moscow and AT THE DAWN is an appropriate title for their debut. The album actually came out in 2009 but has since been reissued by StormSpell in 2011. The reissue gave the booklet an overhaul, some new and vastly improved cover art, translation of the lyrics and they added four bonus tracks. The whole album runs a very generous 73 minutes.
Solar are very adept at playing symphonic Metal. There are many orchestrated parts to enhance the guitar driven songs. Despite the fact that all the songs are written by keyboardist, Roman Rakhmatullin, the album is not driven by keyboards. There are some excellent keyboard flourishes but largely the album is a seamless blend of symphonic and Metal parts. When he does add some solos, I really like the tone of Roman it reminds me of time of classic era-Stratovarius. The opening track ‘Heretic’ showcases all these parts working well together. I’m not sure why but the singing of Yana Lizunkova sounds, dare I say it sexy; exotic and foreign. She has a strong delivery, not really a full sweet soprano but her tone is clear and high. The bonus tracks are four songs redone with English lyrics and they sound just as good. The pace and tempo is quite quick but the band uses time changes to maximum effect.
Overall, AT THE DAWN has some really epic, bombastic moments with all that orchestration swirling around giving the album a real soundtrack feel. The addition of flute, violin acoustic guitar and piano all enhance the sound to it’s fullest. Then a song, such as ‘…The Mask’, for example switches and levels out to feature the voice of Yana for a short spell before ramping up again in tempo and style. The song-writing is diverse, exciting and dynamic.
With the right amount of promotion and/or marketing I feel that Solar could really make an impact on the realm of female fronted symphonic Metal. There as good in terms of professionalism, technicality and song-craft as any number of Western European bands from strongholds of this style, like the Netherlands. Don’t be dissuaded by the vocals being in Russian, AT THE DAWN is well worth your time.