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Citadel (Rus) - The game of light and shadow 4.5/5

Reviewed: 3-13-09


1. The keeper
2. The sword
3. Fire anthem
4. Nine servants of the darkness
5. Silence and calmness
6. The maiden from Orlean
7. The sabbath
8. The forest song
9. The storm
10. Diamond blade
11. Road to hell

Citadel's full-length debut 'The game of light and shadow' is a great example of a CD that's suited perfectly to my tastes. For starters, it's a Russian-language CD (the title and tracklist are translated, as usual), and as many of you know, I'm a major fan of Russian-language metal. Next up, the CD's style is melodic power metal and it's thankfully typical of a lot of the power metal CDs of this decade, complete with the right amount of keys, plenty of speed (though there are slow songs as well), and lots of melody. Finally, there are both female vocals and clear male vocals, which is a combination that I almost always enjoy.

I should mention that the band has gone through many line-up changes both before and after the 2008 release of this debut. Most notable is the fact that the male vocalist (Andrey "Mashka" Mashoshin) on this CD is no longer with the band and is now in the heavy/power metal band Abordazh, who have already released their good but unspectacular debut 'Hell storm' (in late-2008). Since I have both CDs, I can tell you that Andrey sounds terrific on both CDs, and it's not his voice that brought down Abordazh's debut, it was the songwriting. Anyway, he really does sound terrific on 'The game of light and shadow' and his counterpart (Anastasya Simanskaya) matches his high quality with her wonderful voice, which is of the soprano (fairly operatic) type. I totally love the vocal side of this CD and I may miss Andrey on Citadel's next CD.

We all know that a CD's vocal side can't take it up to an ultra-high level alone though, as the musical side needs to be strong too. Thankfully, this truly is the case, as not only is the guitar work excellent throughout (there are some spectacular guitar solos!), the songwriting is outstanding, with the perfect variety of tempo, and there are some additional elements on this CD that make it stand out, including the use of a flute, violin and even a saxophone is present on one song (track 2 "The sword"). So while the CD's base style is melodic power metal, there are some refreshing passages into other styles, and actually, there are parts of this CD that have a folky feel.

For those looking for my typical list of band comparisons, I would call this CD a blend of Epidemia, Catharsis and early Nightwish - regarding both style and quality. I really think of Catharsis when the flute and/or saxophone pop up, but there are a bunch of songs on this CD that bring to mind early Nightwish. In fact, I can't listen to the amazing instrumental in the middle of the CD (track 7 "The sabbath") without thinking of Nightwish's 'Oceanborn' and 'Wishmaster'! I know those are popular CDs (rightfully so) and for the many of you that have them, if you can think of them sung in Russian and with clear male vocals too, you'll get a great idea of what to expect from 'The game of light and shadow'.

It's now clear why I love this CD so much, but the truth is, I think a lot of you would dig it too. It's one of those CDs that has something for everyone and I hope it gets the attention it deserves, as I'm already looking forward to the band's 2nd CD. So check it out right away and heads up - there are some magnificent songs that will be instant highlights!




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