Monday, September 28, 2009

Album Review: Крада - Аз Есьм Огонь!

Krada - Аз Есьм Огонь!

Artist: Крада (Krada) [Russia]
Album Title: Аз Есьм Огонь! (I Am Fire!)
Record Label: Volh Records (Russia)
Released: 2009

Volh Records has managed to track down another obscure Russian gem in the band Krada. They are a mysterious band, with no member credits, no website or Myspace, and no information about where and when they formed. Judging from the band pictures I've seen, Krada looks to be a young band, and rather "normal" looking for metal musicians (no long hair, face paint, costumes, etc.). The unassuming exterior hides a fierce, raging pagan fire of a metal band, one that can compete with just about any other in the genre when it comes to musical ferocity and anger.

Their first album, Steps, which was released in 2008, showed promise yet was not anything spectacular. Krada practically sounded like two different bands on that CD: the one being a rather typical symphonic black metal band, blasting along at a thousand miles per hour; the other being nice-sounding folk band. Only on one track, the title track of that album, did it all manage to more or less mesh together. On their sophomore release, the appropriately titled I Am Fire!, it appears that the split personalities of Krada have blended into one great metal band with a healthy dose of folk to give it some nice pagan atmosphere.

A lot of the aforementioned ferocity of the band comes from the vocalist, whose venom-filled voice is given a lot of room to snarl its way through the songs. His voice has that really angry sound that reminds me of the vocals of Rodosvet and Dub Buk. In fact, the overall style of Krada would fit pretty well between those two bands. It's black metal but with varied pacing and some thrash metal in the mix. The drummer does far more than just blastbeats on the album, though those are still easy to find. Some competent flute playing, audible bass, mild but atmospheric keyboards, and occasional female vocals and what sounds like a zhaleika add some flavor to the album.

The production sounds good but not over-polished. The instruments are all clearly audible, and the guitar sound is kept just raw enough to give it some grit but not so raw that you can't hear the melodic riffs. In other words, the album sounds great and I wouldn't change anything about the production.

Unlike the too-brief debut album, this one clocks in at a solid 40 minutes and doesn't waste much of its playing time. There are two brief instrumentals among the eleven tracks, one being an arrangement of a Rimsky-Korsakov piece, apparently. The strange thing about the CD is that it is divided into two chapters. The first chapter ends with a nice Russian-language cover of Burzum's "War," which is track 7 on this disc, and then track 8 begins the second chapter of the album with an instrumental, followed by two metal tracks and another instrumental. Was this second chapter originally meant to be a separate recording? I have no idea. At least it all seems to go together and doesn't create a distraction when I listen to it.

Krada is a good fit for the solid Volh Records lineup and I hope to hear more from this young band. They're not a well-known name in Eastern European pagan metal yet, but this album is good enough that they should gain some well-deserved attention. If you're a fan of the other bands on that label, like Piarevaracien or Znich, or bands like Kamaedzitca, Rodosvet, and Dub Buk, you'll probably find Krada's I Am Fire! to be a welcome addition to your collection.

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