Released: 2020, M2BA
Despite the world being more and more inter-connected by technology there are still some regions that have quite insular Metal scenes. Geography, politics, money and most of al language, all play a role in preventing bands from expanding internationally. Nowhere is this more relevant than in Russia who have an utterly massive Metal scene yet very little exposure in international / Western Metal media. It’s strange situation that some smaller bands like Arkona for example can tour the West extensively and get much more exposure but a much bigger band like Aria can still remain virtually unknown in the West.
Some people are working hard to break down those barriers and bring more global exposure to Russian bands. There is a gentleman in Norway by the name of Trond Nicolaisen of the band Tomorrow’s Outlook, who has taken it upon himself to help champion Aria to the Western world.
Sometimes it takes a global pandemic to present an opportunity to do just that. During downtime in 2020 the band Aria decided to re-record two of their albums (BAPTISM BY FIRE, and ARMAGEDDON) and releases them in conjunction with their 35thanniversary. It was thanks to Trond that these came across my desk.
These are now widely available everywhere and I have decided to my little part in helping this veteran band by reviewing these albums. Feel free to enjoy both album reviews in this set. I’m sort of cheating and just using the same long introduction so I don’t have to repeat myself.
We generally don’t review too many reissues but this band deserves our attention so this is more like a public service announcement.
Aria are arguably Russia biggest Metal band. ARMAGEDDON was originally recorded in 2006 and was already the bands 12thstudio album. Like all bands there have been line-up changes and the band decided to re-record the album with their current singer, Mikhail.
The band seem to have a signature sound and ARMAGEDDON is a bit of a continuation of the last album (BAPTISM BY FIRE) with no major deviation in tone, tempo or style. Aria still presents us with ten classic and rock solid tracks of traditional Metal. If anything, this album is maybe very slightly slower and maybe a hint more atmospheric. There is an excellent power ballad called ‘The Light Of Bygone Love’ which starts acoustically and finishes strong with a top-notch vocal performance by Mikhail. I would have liked a few more fast songs like ‘Marked By Evil’ or the fast opener ‘Lat Sunset’. The albums cruises along nicely, not too frantic, with good memorable songs and melodies.
I have a couple of Aria albums and had not heard these albums so it is impossible for me to compare any changes in performance, studio quality or delivery but I do know that after hearing this top quality album I want to go back and hear the original. Thanks again to Trond for helping re-introduce us to this excellent band and re-recording!
1. Last Sunset
2. Marked by Evil
3. Guard of Empire
4. New Crusade
6. Blood of Kings
9. Light of Past Love
10. Your Day