Alkonost - The path we've never made 4/5
1. The forest voice
2. The indeiscernible path
3. The night before the battle
6. The dream sea
7. Heat-lightning thoughts
I first learned of Alkonost in the middle of 2006 and I've spent the months since then acquiring all of their full-length CDs and thoroughly digesting them so I can give you all a full description of the band's career thus far. Though they have a CD 'Songs of the eternal oak' from early in their discography (listed as a full-length), it's only 25 minutes long and is a CD I don't have. But since then, they have released 4 full-length CDs and all can be purchased. The band is Russian, has experience with both male and female vocals, and mostly belongs in the folk/pagan metal genre. Overall, as I consider all of their CDs, the bands Orkrist, Almora, Echo of Dalriada and Cruachan come to mind, but just as these 4 bands do, Alkonost stands alone with their own unique sound. Their music is mostly mid-paced, so not as fast as Echo of Dalriada (specifically their CD 'Jegbonto'), nor as uplifting as Almora, but maybe closest to Orkrist, a band I gaurantee is (unfortunately) unrecognizable to many who will read this review.
The first of the band's 4 (what I'll call full-length) CDs is their s/t, and even though it's my least favorite, it remains a fairly strong CD. There are only male vocals (typical death/black mix), and although everyone knows I seek female vocals (especially in this music style) all the time, the music is quite catchy. This s/t CD contains English lyrics, as does their 2nd CD 'Between the worlds'. But with this 2nd CD, female (soprano) vocals are added to the vocal department. The male vocals dominate, but not by much, as the duties are distributed nearly equal. 'Between the worlds' is a bit better than the 's/t' (both musically and vocally), but together they're a great start for the band.
A good deal of changes were then made between the band's first 2 CDs and their 3rd CD 'Mezhmirie' and 4th CD 'The path we've never made'. Firstly, the band decided to switch to Russian lyrics (I've listed the CD title and tracklist as translated), which believe it or not, I actually prefer. Secondly, with their 3rd CD 'Mezhmirie', the male vocalist is completely absent, leaving female vocalist Alyona (who is different than the female vocalist on 'Between the worlds') all by herself. She sounds great and it wasn't until I popped the band's 4th CD 'The path we've never made' into my CD player that I realized I like at least some male vocals present (as they return on this CD) with this particular band. Probably because they have a very dark sound, which rough male vocals usually fit quite well. The female vocals dominate though, creating a true "beauty and the beast" atmosphere. Plus, 'The path we've never made' is the best musically and has the best production, but both the band's 3rd and 4th CDs are very close in (high) quality.
Here's what's tricky though; after some careful listening, I've learned that their 3rd CD 'Mezhmirie' is actually a re-release of their 2nd CD 'Between the worlds'. They've simply re-arranged the tracklist and, per my previous words, switched to Russian lyrics and dropped the male vocalist. So although I like the band's first 2 CDs, if you pick up their 3rd CD 'Mezhmirie' and 4th CD 'The path we've never made', you'll have 3/4 of their material and also their best. Both CDs are consistently excellent, and track 3 "The night before the battle" as well as track 6 "The dream sea" from 'The path we've never made' are absolutley spectacular songs that are as good as any in this style.
With Echo of Dalriada's brilliant 'Jegbonto' still getting tons of spins, and now with all Alkonost CDs regular rotating, I'm definitely getting a solid slab of the obscure side of metal. Hopefully we'll see more bands like this in the future! As a final note, those who are already into Alkonost or if you head out and grab a CD of theirs in the near future, checking out the band Orkrist (who is from Slovakia by the way) is recommended.
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