Teatr Teney - Beast 3.5/5
2. White wolf
6. Al enquentro!
9. Moby Dick
Regular visitors to this site will know that several of us here are enamored of the Russian melodic power metal style. Count me as part of that group; however, I sometimes am disappointed by the massive quality gap separating the genre leaders (Aria, Kipelov, Epidemia) from the also-rans, many of whom simply offer weak copies of the heavy hitters. Certainly, that defect is not unique to the Russian scene, but it does seem particularly pronounced there. As awesome as Aria were and are, they cast an awfully long shadow and all too many acts simply ape them without any attempt at establishing an identity. For that reason, it is refreshing to see other Russian bands attempt to step outside that mold and fashion their own sound within the boundaries of traditional power metal. The Olvy debut 'Darkness and light' is noteworthy in that regard, and Teatr Teney fits the same bill.
Without question, Teatr Teney (whose name means "Theatre of Shadows" in Russian) have some Aria influence; however, they are far from a clone of the Russian Iron Maiden, and have instead incorporated heavier influences into their sound, including a propensity for crunchy rhythm guitars sometimes akin to the heavy-duty power metal style popularized by Brainstorm and others, with punishing rhythms, occasional start-stop riffs, and the odd pinch harmonic here and there. But don't start thinking that this CD delves into American tough-guy mode, because it really does not. Those Eastern European melodies are present in abundance, particularly in the clear, expressive, powerful Russian-language vocals (albeit sometimes on the rough side) and the guitar work as well. Most of the 11 tracks on display boast catchy refrains and cool guitar melodies and harmonies. So Teatr Teney are perhaps best thought of as a hybrid of the traditional Aria-inspired Russian power metal sound with heavier, crunchier elements, all the while keeping the focus on the songs themselves.
Fortunately, the songwriting is generally impressive. The songs have enough variation to keep one's attention, but tend to be on the more uptempo side of the spectrum. The lyrics being in Russian (the tracklist is translated), it is difficult to single out particular tracks for mention, but suffice it to say that several songs are excellent. Nonetheless, it is a pity that the Russian-language lyrics are incomprehensible to me, as I understand this is some form of concept CD in which each song concerns a different kind of animal (hence the title 'Beast', I guess). For added amusement, Teatr Teney include a fine adaptation of that old Blackmore/Axel Rudi Pell staple "Sixteenth century greensleeves" in a cool instrumental that manages to stay true to the band's sound without coming across as mere unadorned Blackmore worship (a feat that Mr. Pell has trouble pulling off sometimes).
Not every song is a winner and, as always, I long for more speed, but Teatr Teney are onto something here. They're skilled players and songwriters, especially considering that 'Beast' is only their 2nd full-length CD. More importantly, they have enough of a spark of individuality to stick out in a crowded Russian power metal field. From the photograph in the booklet, the band appear young. Given a little more time and experience to hone their craft and refine their sound, Teatr Teney might soon pack a massive wallop. For now, they have delivered an enjoyable CD of Russian-language power metal that is recommended to fans of the genre looking for a break from the usual glut of Aria worship.
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