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"Christening of fire" was the first Russian metal album I ever bought along side with "Chimera" when I was in Saint Petersburg in 2006 it just blew me away. Nowadays, it is really hard to find a really good heavy metal album in the original sense of it. Heavy, but melodic guitars which play many interesting solos in each song. A dominating and galloping bass guitar that works hand in hand with a tight drumming. A clean and melodic but still manly and charismatic voice. Topics touching the metal scene or historical events. Aria all deliver that in here.
Most people say that the heavy metal genre is like a dinosaur just before the meteor hits. Well, after I've had listened to this album, I couldn't agree at all. This album must not hide behind the legendary albums of the eighties, no, it is even better than a lot of stuff that has been published in that time. After having discovered this band, I listened to most of their album and although I like the old ones like "Hero of asphalt" or "Play with fire", this album is more than on the same level for me and finally one of my favourite heavy metal albums of all time. I wish that Judas Priest or Iron Maiden would be able to create such an amazing effort nowadays to recreate a genre which is not dead at all and could still have a lot more to say.
Now, let's talk about the songs. The fast opener "Patriot" is heavy, fast, melodic and reminds a little bit of Judas Priest, especially because of the drum intro honouring somehow the legendary "Painkiller". I've heard later that the band broke in two parts just before this album. Well, you don't hear that at all. This album is straight, fresh and way better than the overrated average record "Chimera". The split was what the band needed at that time. The band brings in one catchy metal song after the other like the atmospheric hymn "Christening by fire", the amazing single "Coliseum", maybe the best metal single in a whole decade and definitely the highlight of the album with its amazing guitar solos, the galloping sound of the bass reminding of a Steve Harris in his best years, the great chorus and the amazing middle part. This song just gives me goose bumps. It has been a while that I haven't heard an album that opens with three such amazing songs which reach for the heavy metal crown.
"Palach" is then a more epic and experimental song and sounds different but really interesting. Sadly, with this song, there is a little break in the album, because this is the first song that isn't a hundred percent perfect and shows some lengths.
But then it goes back to heavy metal at its best with the faster one "Your new world" which has an amazing chorus. "There highly" is an amazingly sung ballad with nice acoustic elements. That sounds quite ordinary and traditional as a ballad and it is, but it works very well. The band doesn't try to do strange experiments in here, they just do what they always knew to do and it works perfectly. The melodic "Flag of Truce" has also some acoustic and harmonic parts and faster post-chorus that contrasts that style very well.
"Fight" surprises with a weird and experimental ending with nice sound effects and a haunting voice but this song is a little bit weaker than the three once again amazing songs just before it. "Ball at prince of darkness" is a typical and traditional heavy metal song that finishes the album but figures out to be maybe the most ordinary song on the album because there is the famous certain something lacking.
All in all, this album can be considered as a classical and pure heavy metal album, but it sounds fresh, motivated and straight. Surprisingly, the more traditional songs work even better and are more interesting than the two or three longer or experimental songs. Aria needs no orchestra, no folk instruments, no conceptual albums, no pseudo-intellectual 15-minute-prog-songs. Aria needs just to play heavy metal as heavy metal is!
Some people say that the new millennium has seen a kind of renaissance of the heavy metal genre with the reunions of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but here, the split-up sets positive energy free and is to me the most amazing contribution to the new popularity of heavy metal. No matter where you live, try to get this album legally somewhere and spread the word that there is an amazing heavy metal band in the far east that is ready to conquer the world!