|Aria - Baptizing With Fire
02. Baptizing With Fire
04. The Executioner
05. Your New World
06. There High Above
07. White Flag
09. Dark Count's Feast
To be honest, I didn't expect to see Aria among the featured bands, but I was in for a pleasant surprise. I was also surprised to find only a couple of reviews of their some 15+ albums. Having grown up with their music, I thought I owed it to them and their fans to write a little review on their latest and (arguably) greatest.
"Baptizing with Fire" is the first album since their long time singer Valery Kipelov left the band to start his own project. The rumors abounded then that it was the end of the venerable band, since many believed that Valery Kipelov *was* Aria. That was not surprising, since he was with the band almost since very beginning, and had a truly awesome unique voice, which would be hard to replace. Nonetheless, "Arians" put the end to all their fans' worries when they released the single "Collosseum" featuring their new singer Artur Berkut in the lineup. I remember listening to it for the first time, and thinking: WOW! If that was the shape of things to come, the band was not just alive, but truly alive and kicking ass - big time!!!
When "Baptising with Fire" finally came out, I immediately noticed the change in the sound compared to their previous albums. It certainly sounds heavier, more commercial, and... At this point I'm fighting hard the temptation to add 'more Iron Maiden-like', because people may mis-interpret that sort of comment. When I say 'Iron Maiden-like', I don't mean to say that their music is a rip off, because by any stretch of imagination it's not, and it's never been. All the guys in the band are great musicians, and created band's own unique face. Their music, however, is similar to Iron Maiden in that it is just as complex, with lots of rythm changes, and definitely of same finest quality. So it's rather a statement saying that the two bands are of the same caliber.
As for being more commercial (not necessarily a good thing, in my opinion, as this usually means that lyrics become dumb and nearly meaningless), they still (as they often do) manage to come up with songs that are capable of stirring your imagination, and take you to some remote places in time and space (as an aside, almost all of their lyrics are written by only two people, who, by the way, are not members of the band; majority of those, about 80%, are written by a woman - some mysterious M. Pushkina, who therefore accidentally shares the same last name with the famous Russian poet Alexander
Now to the tracks. While almost all of them are excellent, I'd like to mention a couple of'em in particular. The opening track "Patriot" is a fast paced one, that I think fully qualifies to be called power metal, which is not Aria's usual style, although once in a while you can hear similar tracks on their previous albums. But it perfectly fits with the rest of the album, since it is very energetic, and gives you this "epic" feeling
which you get listening to many tracks on this album.
Track "Collosseum" was apparently inspired by the flick "Gladiator". It takes you far back to the ancient Rome, right into the midst of a fierce gladiator fight taking place inside the yellow circle of death, surrounded by the blood thristy crowd, a fight where the price is life, and the prize is freedom. The music on this track is just as expressive, passionate and powerful as the lyrics - they manage to achieve a true synergy here. Check out the video of this track as well (in the multimedia section of the CD).
"High Above" is another track I really like. It shows the lyrical, tender side of the band, and is deeply phylosophical. The Death pays you a visit, to have a drink, and a little chat about life (and death). The character of The Death and the surrounding atmosphere are so aptly and vividly drawn, that it (especially combined with the music) sends chills down my spine every time I listen to it.
Finally, "The Dark Count's Feast" wraps up the album, as well as the mystical surrealistic journey through space and time, and you find yourself in the midst of a medieval gathering of dark forces, which somehow makes me think of the movie "The Underworld".
As for the technical side, and production wise, the album is as good as any other. Nice cover art work, as usual done by Leo Hao. The front cover depicts several ancient (supposedly Russian?) warriors in the middle of a battle. With lots of red color, you get a feeling that the whole battlefield is ablaze.
Overall, I'd say you should definitely give this album a listen, even if you don't understand the lyrics. Rammstein proved that you don't have to sing in English to achieve world-wide success, and I believe that Aria boys proved once again that they deserve to be up there with the big boys [and girls ] (no pun intended, hehe) (by the way, you probably heard UDO Dirkschneider on Aria's track called "Still"; curiously, I recently heard Rammstein performing that same song - in Russian, mind you - and impressively, almost without accent!)
written by HaNNaH | 27.04.2005
Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.