Aria – Re-Recorded Albums
Baptism By Fire/Armageddon
Release Date: 16/10/2020
Running Time: 57:18/54:07
Review by Victor Augusto
When I was a young and cute (already overweight) kid, back in the nineties, I clearly remember watching a few interviews, on Brazilian TV channels, with local Heavy Metal bands. None of the interviewers were used to interviewing Heavy Metal bands, and they all asked the same question of them, which was, “Why do you sing in English and not in Portuguese?”. Bands like Angra and Sepultura were becoming famous at that time, and they used to explain the commercial side of singing in English, and how it helps to reach fans around the world. Other smaller bands used to answer that it is impossible to sing Heavy Metal in Portuguese. Nowadays, we have many Brazilian metal bands proving that it’s perfectly possible to have Heavy Metal sung in Portuguese. I can’t even imagine how many times Aria heard that question along their 35 years of fame and existence, but still set out to be a legendary band who sang in Russian and still do to this day.
Before I start my review, I have to say that what made me incredibly interested to hear these two re-recorded albums is how enthusiastically my friend Bruno Rocha talks about Aria. He spreads so much positivity about the band, here in Brazil, that he is known as the “Ambassador of Aria in Brazil”. For anyone who doesn’t know Bruno, he is a much-respected reviewer/interviewer here. Among many websites he is part of, he is the mind behind a blog called ‘The Atmosphere’, and he is one of the few reviewers that really does a good job and isn’t arrogant or an idiot (something rare in Brazil). Therefore, thanks Bruno for showing me this legendary Russian band. Thanks to you, Aria has a new fan.
Now, about these two albums! They were totally re-recorded, in 2020, by the current line-up, because the original records couldn’t be made available on digital streaming platforms, due to issues that aren’t worth mentioning. Considering that the original albums had good record production two decades ago, the idea of the re-recording was to keep that same essence. Do we have a better record production? Sure! The guitars of Vladimir Kholstinin and Sergey Popov are louder and stronger. The bass of Vitaly Dubinin is still very present, and particularly important for Aria’s sonority, but here it’s clearer and a little deeper in the mix than on the originals. The drums of Maxim Udalov are also louder and clearer.
The only member in the current line-up that was not in the band on the original records vocalist Mikhail Zhitnyakov, but don’t worry, he’s done an amazing job. He’s perfectly interpreted the style of the previous vocalist, Arthur Berkut. For me, hearing the band for the first time, I felt that the idea was to create almost the same album, without any further innovations. The only change is the new and modern recording, but they have really kept the essence of the originals.
Musically, my first impression was, I suspect, the same as most Aria fans. It was as if I was listening to a Russian version of Iron Maiden. For example, ‘Executioner (Палач)’ is pretty similar to the structure of ‘Dream of Mirrors’ from Maiden’s “Brave New World” album. And ‘The Blood of Kings (Кровь королей)’ reminded me of the clean intro to ‘Sign Of The Cross’ (“X-Factor album”), also from Maiden. There are other influences too. The song ‘White Flag (Белый флаг)’ is similar to Whitesnake, even with that typical “wolf howling” from Dave Coverdale on this song intro. What I liked about the vocals is their beautiful and clean style. It has a perfect blend to not be tiring, like Power Metal singers used to be. Good interpretations and good vocal ranges.
After listening many times to both albums (the originals and re-recorded versions), I had some doubts and I got curious about their history. Again, Mr. Bruno helped by answering all of my questions. So now, I guess I can put down some informed considerations about Aria. The band was born in the middle of the NWOBHM age, and they draw heavily from the feel of classic Heavy Metal influences, like Accept, and Judas Priest, but with a few progressive elements too. However, we are in front of two albums that were originally recorded after the year 2000, when the band were already experienced and famous. It means that they have their own identity too, despite all these references.
Now, here’s my impressions as a new young fan of Aria. I feel that they could easily have performed among the mainstream bands that appeared in the eighties. Probably, the political tensions that the world was facing at that time, restricted them to just their own country. Despite this, it is amazing how they kept bringing constant releases, and built a legion of fans. Thankfully, it now seems that they are becoming as famous as they deserve, around the world. These re-recorded albums show the same spirit of the original ones. The old fans will feel honoured to have them available on digital streaming platforms…albums that respect their history. The new fans (myself included) will be able to get to know the band. The transcription of the album title, band members and songs to English, makes it even easier to access their music.
Epic, heavy, and modern all at the same time. These words can define the re-recorded “Baptism By Fire” and “Armageddon” albums. Aria is a band that puts many emotions into their music and it makes them different. These albums are a fantastic way to offer a gift for the old fans and conquer new fans too.
‘Coliseum (Колизей)’ – Taken From “Baptism By Fire”
Messiah (Мессия) – Taken From “Armageddon”
Baptism By Fire (Originally Recorded and Released in 2003)
01. Patriot (Патриот)
02. Baptism By Fire (Крещение огнем)
03. Coliseum (Колизей)
04. Executioner (Палач)
05. Your New World (Твой новый мир)
06. There Up High (Там высоко)
07. White Flag (Белый флаг)
08. Battle (Битва)
09. Prince Of Darkness’s Ball (Бал у князя тьмы)
10. Battle Field (Поле битвы (бонус трек)
Armageddon (Originally Recorded and Released in 2006)
01. Last Sunset (Последний закат)
02. Marked By Evil (Меченый злом)
03. Guardian Of The Empire (Страж империи)
04. The New Crusade (Новый крестовый поход)
05. Messiah (Мессия)
06. The Blood Of Kings (Кровь королей)
07. Viking (Викинг)
08. Alien (Чужой)
09. The Light Of Bygone Love (Свет былой любви)
10. Your Day (На крыльях ветра)
Mikhail Zhitnyakov – Vocals
Vitaly Dubinin – Bass
Vladimir Kholstinin – Guitars
Sergey Popov – Guitars
Maxim Udalov – Drums
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