I’d hate to admit that I have never heard any song of ARIA (Ария) until recently, even though I am familiar with the name. Apparently ARIA is one of the longest Russian metal bands with albums dating back to the mid 80’s and a cult name among the worldwide underground fans. However, their constant dedication to their native language is an obstacle in becoming a major European name even though they do have fans among the eastern European countries. At least that’s the way I see things. Yet, a listener who’s hungry for genuine, well played heavy metal should not be hesitant in giving them a chance and now with their new album “Curse of The Seas” they could do themselves a favor.
By the look of things listening to the new ARIA album is a must since the album is a killer one. I have to say I didn’t know what to expect, maybe some generic classic metal, but what I heard was beyond my expectations. No, ARIA do not reinvent the wheel, but they do present as an album that can fulfill the highest expectations. Modern but not to the point to lose its classic heavy character, “Curse of The Seas” is an excellent composed and performed album that combines the best traits of the American and European metal scene.
Most of the songs are straightforward, guitar driven with distinctive choruses and harmonies. Just imagine a blend of early BRAINSTORM, HELLOWEEN, RUNNING WILD, PRIMAL FEAR with some touches of TWISTED SISTER, MANOWAR (in their most straight metal moments), JUDAS PRIEST, BONFIRE (heavy moments), DIO, early OZZY/late BLACK SABBATH etc. There’s a hard rock panache throughout the album and experienced songwriting, which means the album progresses smoothly without any ups or downs or tedious moments, since the band has complete control of its sound.
As I mentioned earlier, the guitar sound is distinctive and dominant with rich harmonics, some double leads and without frill complex solos, while there are discreet keyboards mostly in the choruses or some bridge passages. I do believe that there are some songs which stand out more than others like “Lust Run” with its dramatic climatic chorus, “Race For Glory” (which kindly made me think of bands like RACER X covering European metal songs), “Varyag” and the magnificent 12-minute RUNNING WILD-esque “Curse of the Seas” with its great riff. I should mention that all vocals and the songs names are in Russian (I used the English translations), but it shouldn’t bother you since the vocals are more than excellent in terms of overall performance.
To sum it up, I’d say that if you are looking for a classic heavy/power metal album seek nowhere else. This album is for you. I hope that they do find the recognition they truly deserve in the western scene since.