Independent Release

Review by Vard Aman

There is currently no shortage of really good Female-fronted Symphonic Metal bands around the world plying their trade, so for a band to really stand out as distinctly different and/or a cut above the rest takes quite some doing. Just over a year ago, I discovered one of them, from Ukraine – a band called Delia whose debut album, “Spogad”, could and should go down as one of the ultimate Symphonic Metal masterpieces, and certainly would if they were a better known act. Now, from the Russian city of St. Petersburg, there is another one, and they’re called Lanewin: a standout act, not just because of the superb quality of their product, but because they have developed something that is different and distinct from the norm on top of that – something very few bands are able to do. Like Delia (although a very different kind of act), Lanewin‘s strongest standout quality is their vocalist: in Lanewin‘s case, the multi-talented, highly versatile, and delightfully quirky and witty (and stunningly beautiful) Anna Belaeva. Anna has the full vocal repertoire at her disposal; knows when and how to use it all in the right amounts and in the right places. Her repertoire includes things that, while I’m sure many other vocalists are capable of, few have considered using, and fewer in the way that Anna does. Do you want me to give an example? Ha! No! Listen to the album and you’ll hear what I mean! Lanewin formed in 2007 under the name Infinity, changing to Lanewin in 2009. In 2010 they released their debut album, “Autuua”, and now, in 2012, their second, “Eclectic Tour” (i.e. this one). “Autuua” was closer to more standard Symphonic Metal fare (particularly the Dutch kind), but already they, and especially Anna whose versatility was already on display, were beginning to perfect the style and the sound that they would later be using on “Eclectic Tour” (although Anna didn’t reuse any of the occasional growls that she used on “Autuua”).

It should therefore go without saying then that “Eclectic Tour” is a much more polished and much more progressive album than its predecessor. “Eclectic Tour” is chock full of heavy rhythms; powerful riffs and drumming interlaced with various symphonics, both orchestral and more progressive electronics; excellent production; and most of all, massive and (massively) catchy vocal melodies delivered by an outstanding vocalist – the hallmarks of this album, and this band. The single “Nerdic Eclipse”, which was released in 2011 already, has been a regular part of my stuck-in-my-head playlist since then, and on “Eclectic Tour”, you can expect 9 more tracks that will do the same. Yet each track is a totally different offering from every other, and written and preformed in such a way that each and every song on the album is a stand out track, making it nearly impossible to pick a favourite. OK, maybe I’ll pick the epic title track as a favourite… hmmm… or maybe “Nerdic Eclipse”… or the pacey “The Day”… or perhaps the more sinister “Spirit of Spirit”… or the more Gothic Ballad-ish “Hello”... or, well, you get my drift. I have to give mention to the bouncy “Are U Ready?” and the quirky “iFac you Ear” as well. “Never Give Up” is a bit on the poppy side, leaving “Earth is an Angel” as the only relatively “normal” Symphonic Metal song of the kind that one might expect from a relatively “normal” Symphonic Metal band… just to remind you that Lanewin can be “normal” if they want to be; only “normal” to Lanewin is an exception making it not “normal” for them at all. I hope that made sense. A lot of effort went into this album, with a lot of attention to detail, every detail; and it certainly shows.

Lyrically, this album is also something different from what one might expect, but not in the way one might expect. In the comment on their website that accompanied the release of this album (and throughout the CD booklet) Lanewin makes it clear that the album concentrates on and emphasizes the positive and the cheerful – lyrics to inspire you to make your dreams come true. So if you’re expecting the lyrical and emotional fare of Doom Metal, you might want to give this album a skip: “If you want to hear dark depressive songs filled with sorrow, bleeding hearts and words like ‘destiny’ – you should never listen to our album”. No, you won’t find any of that on this album, that’s for sure. However, in my opinion, anyone who does profess allegiance to Metal’s sombre and depressive side who allows these words to put them off listening to this album is making a HUGE mistake. Let me tell you why: although my taste in music is extremely varied (trust me, it is), I have been known to have a particular soft spot for Metal’s more sombre side, and I often do enjoy “depressive songs filled with sorrow” – anyone who has read any of my reviews of Doom Metal bands recently will have realized that – but right now, all I want to listen to is Lanewin: happy, positive, inspirational Lanewin!

You see, the main reason I like a lot of Doom Metal is that I find the emotions that they create through the powerful melodies and atmospheres in their music quite uplifting, contradictory as that may sound. It becomes a way to release negative energy rather than a way to dwell on it. It makes me want to run outside, climb up on the roof and go “yeeaaaaaaarghh!!” as loudly as I can (I’ve never actually done that, just by the way…. afraid of heights). Listening to Lanewin has a very similar effect, even though it is brought about in a different way, and that is because 1) while the music is obviously (mostly) far more upbeat and energetic, when it comes to creating powerful melodies (especially vocal melodies), very, very few bands can match Lanewin; and I regard melody as one of music’s more, if not most vital criteria; 2) the way the songs and the album as a whole is written and arranged – Lanewin are masterful songwriters; their music draws the listener in and refuses to release them from the multi-dimensional and ever changing musical world they have created (“iFac yo Ear”! Hahaha!” – trust me, they’re not kidding); and 3) there is more than one way to release negative emotions though music: the slow sombreness of Doom Metal is one way; and the carefree, energetic and positive craftsmanship of Lanewin is another. This is after all Symphonic METAL we’re talking about here.

So let me reword that line for Lanewin slightly: “If you want to hear dark depressive songs filled with sorrow, bleeding hearts and words like ‘destiny’ – you won’t find that on our album; but you will still find something that you will enjoy, and maybe even enjoy more, so listen to our album anyway and discover what you have been missing all this time”. OK, that wouldn’t have been very humble of them, so perhaps it’s a good thing they didn’t write it like that – but I can write it like that in this review, because, in my less-than-humble opinion, it’s true!

So, now that I’ve almost finished writing this review, and I have listened to “Eclectic Tour” more times than I’ve been able to count (with countless more times scheduled no doubt), and I have watched many YouTube videos of them playing live and admiring (especially) Anna‘s energetic and graceful stage presence (and beauty – she is Russian after all), I feel sad: sad that I’m not still living in Russia; and sad that I am therefore not likely to see this amazing band playing live anytime soon, living as I do on the other side of the world…. too far from where Lanewin owns the stage – where they’ll welcome us to be lost in the oblivion of their theatre; where they’ll feed us all with dreams, and let us vanish in their warmth…. Lanewin‘s “Eclectic Tour” is the Symphonic Metal equivalent of receiving a 40 minute long Indian Head Massage from Anna Belaeva; and I can’t think of anything closer to perfection, or a warmer dream to vanish in, than that!

Rating – 98/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Never Give Up
  2. Are u Ready?
  3. The Day
  4. Eclectic Tour
  5. iFac yo Ear
  6. Earth is an Angel
  7. Nerdic Eclipse
  8. Spirit of Spirit
  9. Hello
  10. Revival

 

Line Up

  • Anna Belaeva – Vocals
  • Dmitriy Popov – Guitars
  • Ivan Kaiser – Keyboards
  • Denis Geit – Bass
  • Alexander Fedorov – Drums

 

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