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The single was misleading…doesn’t live up to expec - 74%

PowerMetalGlory, July 20th, 2003

After hearing Aria’s latest single “Kolizei”, I was really excited to hear the new album and expected a return to the early glory days of Aria. Even the album cover was making my mouth water!

After listening to the album a few times, it’s clear that the glory days are probably left in the past. One of the biggest drawbacks of the new Aria is the vocalist. Berkut’s voice worked quite well for the single and is not entirely horrible, but his weakness really shows on half the songs and Kipelov’s vocal chords are dearly missed. Obviously, the vocals aren’t the only negative thing about this album. The songs aren’t as captivating or memorable as Aria’s earlier material. I am glad for one thing, this is MUCH better than Chimera, which deserves to be eradicated from the band’s catalogue.

During the past five years, Aria has been edging further away from the Maiden-esque sound that was quite prevalent on the first 6 albums. It’s good that they are trying to find a sound of their own, but I don’t think that they are having too much success. The guitar tone on a lot of songs on Christening by Fire is thrashier and “heavier” than previously heard on their albums. Aria is also experimenting with some new sound effects that aren’t very wholesome but are still tolerable. Track 8, “Bitva” is a prime example of what I am talking about.

Now, you’re thinking, “Is there anything favorable about this album?” Yes. There are 2.5 great songs hidden amongst the 9 tracks. The aforementioned single – “Kolizei” and the sixth' track “Tam Visoko” (loosely translated as “High Above”) are the highlights of the album. I would give my left nut to hear Kipelov sing “Tam Visoko”, but again, Berkut does an ok job. No, the “.5” is not forgotten. The last song on this album could have been amazing. It had so much potential that it hurts. It could have been another epic like Blood for Blood or Night is Shorter than Day. The lyricist decided to yet again write about Bulgakov’s great novel “Master and Margarita”. Parts of the song just do not seem to match the lyrical content too well and vocal arrangement just doesn’t cut it most of the time. Oh well.

Synopsis: Potentially good album ruined by riffs that are too familiar, weak vocals and other foreign elements. I still have hope for this band, but in the mean time I am going to check out Kipelov’s side project.