Label : Ravenheart Records
Review by Vard Aman
Back in 2010 a band called Delia, from Kiev, Ukraine, released an album called “Spogad” (“Спогад”) – an album which I regard as one of the best Symphonic Metal albums ever recorded and released; an album that if it had been released by a band like Within Temptation or After Forever or any one of the other top bands in the genre would have gone down as one of the ultimate Symphonic Metal masterpieces of all time. But it wasn’t, it was released by a Ukrainian band called Delia; and the question I’ve always asked and am still asking is: does it make any difference whether it was released by a well known act or whether it was released by a less well known act? My answer to that question is “none whatsoever” and so “Spogad” goes down in my books as one of the ultimate Symphonic Metal masterpieces of all time. “Spogad” was sung in the band’s native Ukrainian, which may have counted against it (I know of at least one so-called “promoter” in the social media that exhibits an open and quite bigoted dislike of any bands that sing in languages other than English, flatly refusing to give them any promotion or even mention whatsoever). But why should it? Rammstein have become a household name worldwide singing in their native German, so why should singing in their native language count against a band like Delia, or any other band that chooses to sing in their native language? We’re talking about art here, not global commerce. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into the narrow mindedness of a tiny minority – I’d certainly like to believe that I am. Anyway (rant over), during a FMW interview I conducted with Delia‘s vocalist, Anastasia Sverkunova, just over a year ago, she let slip that an English version of “Spogad” existed but had not been released because they were unable to find a label to release it. Enter Ravenheart – an up-and-coming label specializing in up-and-coming Female-fronted Metal bands, and have been working wonders in making sure that some of the quality less-well-knowns get the attention that they so rightfully deserve; and so a year later “Recollection” was finally released.
Making this album such a masterpiece is a combination of several factors: The quality of the songwriting and the attention to creative detail. This band has a real knack for producing top quality songs. Their follow up EP, “Fire” / “Vogon” proved that “Spogad” / “Recollection” was not just a once off moment of brilliance. That said, “Spogad” / “Recollection” was the cumulative result of 5 years of work; and one can safely assume that the band wrote more than 14 songs during that time and only the best of the best made it onto the album.
The album has 15 songs (if you include the 2 bonus tracks, the last one being a Spanish version of “Melody of Fall”) running at just over an hour in length. Usually, an album of such length will have a few songs that could be regarded as “fillers”, but not this album. Every single song on this album stands out, making this an album that will keep the listener riveted from the beginning to the end. I cannot think of another release of this length where such a high quality was maintained throughout, where every single song stood out and not one could be regarded as “a weaker track”. However, I am still going to mention two songs off the album that are of particular significance: firstly “Forgotten Land” (called “Забутий Край” on “Spogad”) excels even in the context of this album, although I may have a slight bias towards it because of the impact of the official video which for me first pushed this band from the realm of the really good to the realm of the absolutely sublime (that was before I had heard the entire album). You can find the video on Youtube in its Ukrainian version. The second one is the song “Dead City”, for which a video was also made. “Dead City” is about the ghost town of Pripyat, where Anastasia was born not long before Chernobyl’s Reactor 4 blew its top off. The song was written mostly as a tribute from Anastasia‘s perspective and her thoughts on her hometown, especially considering its history and its significance beyond simply being a “hometown”, as the rest of us might regard ours.
– Perhaps the biggest factor of them all: Anastasia‘s immense vocals; her range and control; and above all the emotion and the intensity she is able to generate with and through her voice. There is no going through the motions here, this is as real as it gets, and it is very effectively carried across to the listener in a way that few vocalists are capable of. One does not simply just listen to this music, one feels it. This is somewhat more prevalent on “Spogad” where Anastasia sings with the additional confidence of her native language, but it shines through on “Recollection” as well. Anastasia is a polyglot (Russian, Ukrainian, English, Spanish, and one or two others as far as I know) and the songs on “Recollection” are for the most part faithful renditions of their Ukrainian versions. Her accent does come through in places; some may find it a little distracting perhaps, some will be indifferent, and others will find it totally awesome even adding something extra to the feel of the overall product. In places, it is a little hard to follow without the lyrics, but that isn’t really anything unusual, and in Delia‘s case following the lyrics is something well worth doing anyway: “Forgotten land – the welcome instant of unity, you have to stand and wait for wild winds…”; “My lost city still lives in memory, nevertheless this deep fear can strike…”
Now, there is something that has been bugging me just a little, or maybe “confusing” is a better word. Here we have an album which I regard as one of the best Symphonic Metal albums of all time. At very least, if you think I’ve praised it too highly (ask yourself why I’ve praised it so highly if you do think I have), it belongs on the top rung of the Symphonic Metal ladder along with the very best the genre has to offer. I’ve seen nothing but praise and enthusiasm for this band wherever I’ve seen reviews or comments on them on the internet, be it “Spogad”, or “Fire”, or any of their videos. “Recollection” is an album that surely no Female-fronted Metal fan should be without. Yet where is the promotion? Brian Dade has given it airplay on his Monday night radio show, “The Female Fronted Symphonic Rock and Metal Show” on Aii Radio (http://aiiradio.net/); but for the rest its release was accompanied by a single line on Ravenheart’s official website. And that single line was 100% more than was announced by the band – all the band’s online pages (official, VK, Facebook, etc) have remained eerily quiet. Usually, when a band releases an album, there is some kind of announcement from the band themselves; but as I write this, “Recollection” has been out for about a month and still Delia remain silent. Am I missing something here? So, with “Recollection”, Delia have earned two accolades: one for the release of the English version of one of the best albums ever recorded; and one for one of the stealthiest, most secretive album releases to date. If I didn’t sincerely believe that this is an album that everyone should buy, I’d almost feel guilty about telling you about it. Almost.
Rating – 100/100
- Lumen (Sub Ala Angeli)
- I’ll Always be Waiting for You
- Forgotten Land
- New Time
- Dead City
- Find Me
- The Ghost
- Got Tired
- Melody of Fall
- Your Name
- Illusion (Bonus Track)
- Melodia Otoñala (Bonus Track)
- Anastasia Sverkunova – Vocals & Piano
- Sergey Sirko – Guitars & Keyboards
- Lidia Kubrak – Keyboards
- Michael Gudzenko – Bass
- Vitaliy Tolkachev – Drums
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