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Ruyan - Heritage 4/5

Reviewed: 3-1-11


1. Intro
2. Wormwood
3. Omniscient elder
4. Song about yarilo-father
5. Oh, ye furious winter
6. Bright dawns, cold nights
7. Lelya-spring
8. Ruyan

Ruyan is a folksy pagan metal band from Russia and ‘Heritage' is their debut studio CD, but note that the title and tracklist have been translated. Their songs are generally a blend of heavy, crunchy, dramatic doom metal and fast, rocking blackened death metal. These 2 styles are often played against each other, so the songs flow back and forth from heavy, ominous and even a bit melancholy to fierce, aggressive and quite invigorating. Almost every song has a folksy thread weaving in and out of the arrangement, usually an acoustic Russian folk melody or a festive folksy power metal run. The folksy passages are frequently extensive and instrumental, adding a sense of lightness and joy to the otherwise fairly heavy and aggressive music.

The vocals are a mix of soprano and growling all sung in Russian, courtesy of their female vocalist Daria "Rodonitsa" Serdyuk. To my knowledge the first female vocalist in Russian pagan metal to employ this dual vocal style was Masha “Scream” Arhipova from Arkona, but Daria has a different approach for both her clean and extreme vocals: she is a strong soaring slightly operatic soprano rather than an alto, and her extreme vocals are more of a fierce but smooth growl rather than black metal rasping. Indeed, Daria’s clean vocal style reminds me of Alena Pelevina from Alkonost, especially her more anthemic passages against the folksy power metal, which are often unusually beautiful and rousing. Daria’s growls are more occasional in the songs and much less abrasive than Masha’s rasps.

There are quite a few excellent Russian pagan metal bands featuring at least some female vocals, bands like Alkonost, Anabioz, Arkona, Butterfly Temple, Fearlight, Kalevala, Nevid', Rarog and Tverd; Ruyan is a welcomed addition to this list. Most of these bands have their roots in power metal, though Arkona and Nevid’ have ventured into more technical black metal territory with their recent CDs, and Butterfly Temple has always had a significant progressive element in their arrangements; in contrast, Ruyan is more fundamentally doom and death metal, like Anabioz, though not nearly as one-dimensional as Anabioz. This along with Daria’s exquisite vocal performance puts Ruyan in a unique place in this genre and they are essential for fans of it.




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