Review by Vard Aman
Excalibur come from the fairly small city of Orel (Орёл – pronounced Oryol) about 400km South of Moscow, which is just next door in Russian distance. With a name like “Excalibur”, you might be able to guess what kind of music they play. Yep, they play Symphonic Power Metal. And in the world of Symphonic Power Metal they certainly live up to their name in the superb quality of their craftsmanship, but not, unfortunately, when in comes to the international fame that they so rightfully deserve. Hopefully that will change.
So, what can you expect from this band and this album? You can expect some of the best material this genre has to offer – a vast dramatic sound full of intricate orchestration; heavy guitars, bass and drumming; excellent vocals (provided by Valeria Nikiforova); plenty of catchy melodies; and of course a few mellow ballad-type songs as well. “Душа” is the third offering from Excalibur, and their second full length album. The album kicks off with an orchestral instrumental and from then up to and including the sixth track the dramatic power of this band is almost relentless – particularly the songs “Дочь Вампира” (“Daughter of the Vampire”); “Душа” (“Soul”); and “ЭВОЭ” (“EVOE”) – a powerful and catchy instrumental. “ЭВОЭ” provides a bit of a watershed moment on the album, because after that the music changes pace with two slower, mellow songs that almost serve to provide some sort of “relief” after the first six (if you want to phrase it like that). That could be a good or a bad thing, depending on one’s tastes and on one’s expectations from this kind of music. For me, I found them, and the following track, to be a bit of a lost-in-the-wilderness type moment before the dramatic power of the band returned in the final song, “Лабиринт” (“Labyrinth”) and its instrumental build up. Perhaps – and this is my only criticism – the album was one song too long. After “Лабиринт” are two bonus tracks: a really beautiful unplugged number and a cover of “Кто Кого”, originally by Russian Trash/Power Metal legends, Мастер (Master).
If you can get hold of this album I strongly recommend that you do, because on it is everything that fans of this genre will love. And for those who are not (yet) fans of this genre, this album will provide as good an example with which to convert them as any – and that hopefully also goes for fans of the genre who for some reason have a dogmatically self-inflicted disinterest in (or dislike of) bands that sing in languages other than English. This album should serve to demonstrate to everyone just how good and in how healthy a state Russian Symphonic Power Metal currently is!
Rating – 92/100
- Каданс Времени [Kadans Vremeni – Cadence Time]
- Жажда Жить [Zhazhda Zhit’ – Desire to Live]
- Дочь Вампира [Doch’ Vampira – Daughter of the Vampire]
- Душа [Dusha – Soul]
- Закрой Глаза [Zakroy Glaza – Close your Eyes]
- ЭВОЭ [EVOE]
- Прочь от Всех [Proch’ ot Vsekh – Get Away from it All]
- На Далеком Берегу [Na Dalekom Beregu – On the Farthest Shore]
- Симфония Забвения [Simfoniya Zabveniya – Symphony of Oblivion]
- Путеводная Нить [Putevodnaya Nit’ – Clue]
- Лабиринт [Labirint – Labyrinth]
- Немая Осень (Unplugged) [Nemaya Osyen’ – Silent Autumn]
- Кто Кого (Master cover) [Kto Kovo – Who’s Who]
- Valeria Nikiforova – Vocals
- Vitaly Okoneshnikov – Guitar
- Ksenia Aranchey – Keyboards
- Svyatoslav Bykovskiy – Bass
- Andrey Nazarov – Drums