Recently relocated from the snowy desolation of Siberia to the cultural terrains of Prague, the mighty Welicoruss remains one of the most vastly underrated symphonic metal bands on the planet. Az Esm` is the name of their latest masterwork, showing Welicoruss at the very height of their creativity, mixing dark art with a good deal of imagination and intrigue. Those who manage to uncover a copy of Az Esm` will be in for an unforgettable auditory journey through Pagan lands from the another time. The Russian spirit is present in all its vibrant glory, and the twelve epic compositions found within are wondrously triumphant.
After an ominous Intro sets the tone of the journey ahead, the staggering title cut Az Esm`features male and female co-vocals weaving their magic into the blistering soundscape. Voice Of Millennium meshes cinematic keyboards and sweeping vocals while Sons Of The North is a black metal anthem showing all members of the Welicoruss horde in their finest hour.
Throughout the album, the mesmerizing musicianship continues with a fiery sense of urgency. Fires Of Native Lands possesses an exquisite sense of dynamics, commencing with a peaceful prologue before merging into its striking neo-classical chorale refrains. Dolmen especially stands out with its operatic female vocals – gorgeous and poignant – followed by the ferocious male growls – sending this wonderful composition into the stratosphere. Outsider is another highlight, filled with mystery and wonder. And be sure to listen all the through to the end, as Az Esm` – Epilogue closes the journey on a vividly spectacular note.
The musicianship found within the Welicoruss experience is solidly first rate, featuring inspiring performances from Alexey “Welicoruss” Boganov on vocals, Gojko Maric on guitars, Dmitriy Zhikharevich on bass, and David Urban on drums. Fans of bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Amon Amarth and Arkona will surely want to check into the mystical world of Welicoruss. With a recording this well produced containing ambitious sonic tapestries so thoroughly realized, it’s very surprising to see a release of this caliber being distributed without the backing of a record label. Az Esm` is a remarkable achievement for Welicoruss – one that metal fans and serious music aficionados will wish to explore time and again.
(Review by Ken Morton)
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