Rosa Infra: Change of Scenery (Смена Декораций)

It is hard to think of any other adjective that fits the debut album from Russian band Rosa Infra than mighty. Before Change of Scenery does anything else it just takes one into a sound and heart that impresses the senses before thrilling, lighting them up, and crooning them into deep pleasure. The gothic metal/electronic /darkwave blend without being demanding seizes attention through its wonderful craft and expressive delivery and sound. Bringing an edge and depth to it, there is also an industrial inspired vein that stands in contrast to the excellent deep and smooth vocals and swarming electronic sounds but also makes the perfect muscular companion.

Rosa Infra began in 2006, formed by vocalist/bassist/composer Nikolay Karpushin. Since then the band has shared stages with the likes of Paradise Lost, To/Die/For, Embraze, and For Selena & Sin, impressing each and every time as they built a formidable fan base in their homeland and beyond. Now with guitarist Evgeniy Belyaev, drummer Vsevolod Akimov and Zinaida Azarova on keyboards alongside Karpushin the band has created a majestic album that thrills and fills the heart to its very core. Thoughtfully composed and defined Change of Scenery released via Russian label Sound Age, is an epic release that deserves and needs to be heard.

Immediately the opening track Lozh Vo Spaseniye emerges on a fully focus grabbing ambient brew of sound it has the ear, once the guitars light up the synth soaked skies with sharp melodies and the riffs gallop eagerly through the ear the song captures the imagination and heart. The growling bass that stalks the song ensures total submission such its power and irresistible prowl whilst the vocals of Karpushin are immense; his blackened tone and rounded delivery a velvet siren. At times the song and vocals remind very strongly of Stam1na, never a bad thing and it sets the album off to a strong and very satisfying start.

Often albums that begin so impressively slip down a gear or two along its way but with Change of Scenery the varied and potent collection of songs hold the highest and tightest consistency. The likes of the dramatic Proschenniy with its heavy arms of gothic passion and heartfelt piano touch, the masterful and haunting Snova Odin, and the stunning instrumental Sonata Di Dolorum, a piece which brings a drama and overwhelming atmosphere to consume and evoke feelings, all in different ways take the senses on a journey of emotion, passion, and classically tinged gothic metal imagination.

If that was not enough diversity the band offer further electro/industrial grace with Snezhniy Angel and beauty through the piano led Pis’ma Niotkuda (Romans). The first is light but expressive, its heart a pulsating beckoning that is impossible to deny especially with the enthused sharp guitars and rumbling bass. It has to be said as well as being a great vocalist Karpushin is one notable bassist, his dark intimidating riffs and lines an infectious element of each song no matter its flow or emotion. The second of the two is an impactful track that from an already effective and compelling level raises the appeal with the inclusion of a guest string trio which touches the remaining parts the song had not already breached with its emotive power.
As mentioned the album is impressive throughout, other songs like the industrial fuelled Krilya and second instrumental Rassvet equal joys but two songs take top honours on the album. Nadezhda Na Utro opens with a Sisters Of Mercy like intro before rumbling through the ear with more great bass work and warm inventive synths whilst the guitars turning every note into an event. Again Stam1na comes to mine plus a gothic rock mix of Sisters and The Mission. It wraps itself around the ear with ease and mesmeric invention spoiling us with extra stirring rock solos and melodic treats. Edinstvo V Grehe coaxes the ear with a darker and slower predatory yet welcoming flow. Deeply resonating from again bass and vocals, the song has a rounded quality brought to it by the keys and the stirring passion it possesses.

Change of Scenery is a total joy, and a pleasure that deepens the more one lets its creative might immerse the senses. If Rosa Infra are not in the very least a well known name from this album there will be no justice, such quality deserves an equal reward.

RingMaster 14/04/2012

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Illnath: Third Act in the Theatre of Madness

Like the most spiteful demon from the darkest corner of your mind, preying on your shadows and fears Danish metalers Illnath return with their third album Third Act in the Theatre of Madness. The release exposes and explores the deeper crevices of the mind, whipping away the safety net of sanity to crawl and stalk every thought and emotion with manipulative grooves and venom soaked intrusive clawed riffs. Admittedly the release does not venture down new darkened corridors but the striking melodically grooved black metal carries an infection and irrepressible quality that makes it a triumphant compulsive experience.

Illnath formed in 1999 and found a positive response and ever growing following to their initially symphonic black metal sound.  A demo the year after plus their debut album Cast into Fields of Evil Pleasure in 2003 and the following Second Skin of Harlequin in 2006 saw them build on the ever strengthening attention. Musically they evolved too into a melodically driven black/death metal outfit, their sound crossing both genres without fitting neatly into either. Third Act in the Theatre of Madness sees the band with a new line-up with remaining founder member guitarist Pete Falk being joined by bassist Kenneth Frandsen, session drummer Reno Killerich, and the disarming yet mesmeric pit borne vocals of Mona Beck. The album released through Pitch Black Records also sees the most melodic release from the Illnath yet, a creative beast that is veined with killer grooves and provocative scorched sonically driven invention.

First track Third Act opens on a sideshow like melodic synth before stripping slices of the senses with sharp riffs and caustically gripping growls from Beck, her excellent delivery harsher and more impactful than any movie demonic interpretation. The song does not bring anything particularly new to the ear but rather revisits and re-moulds recognisable sounds and ideas to forge an openly agreeable invitation. Moments like the clean vocals of Beck and the mesmeric synths add a vibrant and pleasing extra aside to bring a fuller flavour to the song.

The following Scarecrow is a dramatic and excellent continuation of the intrusion. The groove that drives it twisting around the senses before squeezing them into submission as the flighty keys, the sinister bass, and the astringent vocals all take the ear through unpredictable and spite filled corridors. Already one imagines purists might be reluctant to entertain or even credit the varied and imaginative combinations of ideas emerging from here on in but anyone giving the album the focus it deserves will be rewarded with a balanced and nicely crafted collection of songs and their realisation.

Third Act in the Theatre of Madness storms through the ear continuously to its end, the likes of Snake of Eden with its classic metal pleasuring, the persistent acutely grooved Death Spring Will Come, and the rock n metal black blistering of Vampiria, riling up the senses with strong and addictive black metal fair. There is not a jaw dropping element to them or face slapping originality but they swarm over and capture the emotions through straight forward honest and eagerly brought sounds. If you want an album that ticks all the boxes from beginning to end Illnath is the band to immerse into.

Alongside Scarecrow, the hypnotically grooved Fall of Giants with its symphonic spiced synths takes top honours. The song leaps and punishes with acidic wearing sounds and a guitar incursion that is as venomous as the bile dripping off the vocals. The song adds extra spice with solos and melodies that cut deeply and linger welcomingly, a wonderful and thoroughly pleasing piece of sound.

As stated before Illnath with Third Act in the Theatre of Madness do not offer anything boundary breaking but the album is a feast of pleasure and stirring creativity from start to finish. It is easily an album one will reach for with glee again and again without any needed reminder or inducement.

RingMaster 14/04/2012

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