Released: 2004, Neoblast
I have long argued that a band must be judged first and foremost on it’s own merit and after that, should one consider external influences. Accordingly I tend to take each band as a whole and tend to dismiss accusations of ‘being a clone’ as an unsophisticated analysis as people tend to listen with their eyes and judge far too quickly, asserting they have heard it all before.
Having prefaced my personal position first I will get the obvious out of the way first…Tvangeste could be considered by some to be a Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth clone. On a superficial level you could draw many direct comparisons with those two influential bands. However I feel Tvangeste stands on it’s own merit very well and apart from those bands and here is why.
Tvangeste is a Russian band with many diverse styles and influences that could be (genre purity debates aside) called Black Metal. I do use the term loosely as there really is too much going on here, musically, lyrically and in terms of arrangement and production for the band to be tagged BM. A glance at the band member list sees this ensemble throwing everything into the mix, male-female vocals, (high vocals, low vocals and a soprano type) violins, two keyboardists, tons of double kick drums, flute solos and additional strings. A heady mix to be sure. They are far less ‘metal’ than the other bands have use the eastern musical influences to add a nice distinguished touch to the songs.
There must be some Eastern European connection to some industry people in Quebec as there are a few bands like Divina Enema, Merlin and Tvangeste showing up on these small labels in Canada. Neoblast does a great job with packaging; a nice booklet with a cool look and layout, more drawings instead of photos. Licensed from the Japanese label World Chaos, this Russian band is certainly making their impact worldwide. The CD is enhanced which is nice but I don’t see the purpose of the radio edit of the lead track. What’s the point? No commercial radio station would touch this with a ten-foot pike-axe.
Lyrically the band touch on topics one might expect of an Eastern European band, less weepy romantic gothic nonsense about red roses and red wine, but they dwell more on the fight for Prussia to be free from foreign invaders and influence particularly from the 1200’s. Certainly themes of war, defiance, rebellion, and battle are the standard as well as a mild anti-Christian sentiment. You could almost say these guys have a strong epic Viking style and theme but with the class and sophistication of the royal courts of old Europe.
The vocals of Chirva remind me of both King Diamond and Dani Filth and the soprano at times sounds as sweet as Tara of Nightwish. I would have liked more guitar as it is often buried in the mix overshadowed by all the other elements. The combination all the extras, the female vocals, strings, flutes, choirs, spoken word, on top of epic, progressive, blackened/Viking tinged metal make FIRESTORM a very enjoyable listening experience.