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. For the record one of our writers reviewed this album when it came out back in 2003! Check out that review here! www.metal-rules.com/2003/09/01/aria-christening-by-fire/
Aria are arguably Russia biggest Metal band. BAPTISM BY FIRE was originally recorded in 2003 and was already the bands 11thstudio album. Some people translate the title as CHRISTENING BY FIRE. 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 play a traditional form of classic Heavy Metal not unlike Judas Priest or Iron Maiden but with perhaps a few more classic touches. This album represented a bit of a rebirth for the band after the big line-up changes and so the title is quite appropriate. The production quality is top notch of the new version is top-notch. The album is a nice balance of speed, catchy anthems and a decent ballad. ‘Coliseum’ is one of the better tracks and it has what a westerner like me might presume is the typical ‘Russian sound’ with big anthemic male choirs parts especially at about the 4:00 minute mark. There are a few atmospheric keyboard parts here and there but for the most part the album is just straight up classic Metal in all her glory.
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!
2. Baptizing with Fire
4. The Hangman
5. Your New World
6. There High Above
7. White Flag
8. The Battle
9. Dark Count Feast