Sounding like the bastard offspring of the Austrian Strauss Brothers with a bent for insatiable adrenaline fuelled folk metal and exhausting jazz, Russkaja is a dream or delicious nightmare for those with the wildest adventure in their musical hearts. Fusing and brewing up a storm of crazed polka beats, bedlamic punk rock energy, and a multitude of other instinctive essences from a tempest of styles and sonic cultures, their sound is as distinctive as it is wonderfully challenging. Self-penned as Russian Turbo Polka Metal, Russkaja create music which is a jaw dropping joy and certainly across the fun of new album Energia! ignites thoughts of the likes of Gogol Bordello, P&H, and Kontrust within a unique and wholly addictive individual stance.
Formed by Georgij A. Makazaria (ex-Stahlhammer), the band consists of a group of Russian, Austrian, and Ukrainian musicians. Though begun in Vienna the band has a certain Russian flavour to their near manic creativity, an imagination with a tongue firmly entrenched in its cheek but dripping with enterprise, pure invention, and irresistible anthemic lunacy. Since 2006 the band has played more than 300 concerts across Europe and found major success in their ‘adopted countries’ of Austria and Germany. Four impressive appearances at Wacken Open Air has lit up attention and a growing fever for their sound with shows at Chiemsee Reggae Festival, Nova Rock, and numerous World music and Jazz festivals furthering their brewing presence, thirty Festival events occurring across Europe last year alone. Third album Energia! feels like a trigger to major things for the band as it teases the senses during its irrepressible encounter but then we at The RR are suckers for aural mischief and meddlesome ingeniousness.
With the lyrics predominantly in Russian but with plenty of other national flavouring included throughout, the songs are said to be a postmodern version of Russian folklore; all you need to know is that they make up another thrilling thread to a weave of sensational limb commanding and passion firing brilliance, starting with the title track. The song takes the length of one mere breath to scoop up the passions in a dance of teasing guitar and the bear like vocals of Makazaria. Into its stride the song reaps a ska/reggae swagger to its strolling stride with the horns adding a gentle flame of heat to the brewing urgency of the now romp approaching gait. The sparks of brass instantly bring a grin and warmth to the heart, the trumpet of Rainer Gutternigg and potete (a unique hybrid of trumpet and trombone) of H-G. Gutternigg teasing and guiding to the head bobbing strokes from the guitar of Engel Mayr. Firing up the gypsy inside us all, the song is instantly one of the pinnacles of the album though closely challenged by each subsequent riot of sound and dance.
The following Barada and Radost Moja continue the flush of excitement, the first with a slower walk within sun soaked rays of smouldering brass and sensitive guitar caresses though you sense a wickedness just waiting to free itself throughout. Like a muscular Bad Manners, honestly, the track sways and lights the air with compulsive temptation whilst its successor leaps in like a court jester, a kaleidoscope of aural colours primed to tease and persuade the most potent ardour. Featuring Wladimir Kaminer and Yuriy Gurzhy, the song is a delicious romp of melodic rascality, a delicious devilment of toe tapping merriment with street corner shadows to pounce within the sinewy tones of the chorus. With the drums of Mario Stübler framing all, the firm rim of the song breaks into a sizzling waltz of seductive melodic sunshine before regaining its hold for another muscular climax, and completion of one more major highlight within Energia!, one of so many.
Soaked in diversity as much as crafty imagination, the likes of the brawling punk lined Autodrom with its schizo breath, Violina Mia with the violin of Ulrike Müllner placing its emotive kisses on the ear, and Surrealnaja with the bass of Dimitro Miller finding its throatiest presence within the sweltering whimsy of the polka embrace, all reap distinct and individual fields of invention and musical textures.
The album holds back two more of its greatest moments for the latter end of the release, firstly with the thrash/grind metal coated Dikije Deti. Of course it is not long before the track is flaunting its aural knavery with siren like melodic inducement but punctuates it with explosions of metallic ferocity which seamlessly erupts from the surrounding energetic folk parade. Tanzi Tanzi is another punk n roll bruising veined with unhinged melodic revelry and one more ardour causing triumph.
With only the closer Sorry unable to keep the fires which raged from the opener continuing to burn as furiously, though it is an impressively sculpted piece of emotive adventure, the Napalm Records released Energia! is a magnificent tempest of intoxicating joy. It might not be for everyone but certainly any fans of folk metal and psyched melodic invention will be wetting themselves in delirium for what Russkaja conjure.
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