Our own introduction to Austrian turbo polk metallers Russkaja was through their third album Energia! and there is no denying it stole our ears and lustful soul with ease. Now the septet returns with its successor Peace, Love & Russian Roll and fair to say the devilish fun continues. The album in many ways seems a more concentrated attempt at flirting with the broadest attention, songs sung predominantly in English this time around and the bedlamic nature of their songwriting turned down a touch, but it does not stop the band unleashing another manic and exhilarating stomp.
Formed in 2005 by vocalist Georgij A. Makazaria, Vienna hailing Russkaja has a sound which embraces the essences of its member’s Ukrainian, Austrian, and Russian heritage, the latter especially a potent hue in an adventure which entangles folk, punk, ska, jazz, metal, polka…well you name it and it will be in there as shown by both Energia! and now Peace, Love & Russian Roll. As suggested the band seems to be looking at stirring up a wider spotlight of attention with their new album, but in no way does it mean they are dipping into commercial attributes to cheat the imagination and fans, just that Peace, Love & Russian Roll has, well I guess it is a more mature and knowing touch to the songwriting and sound behind its magnetic schizo waltz.
The festival of flavour and adventure starts with the body igniting Rock’n Roll Today. Its opening fanfare of trumpet has ears instantly hooked, with the scythes of energy, riffs, and drum stick swipes only adding to the enticing. Within a few more breaths the track is in full throttle, stampeding through ears with a punk ferocity, multi-flavoured tenacity, and a web of rhythms which, as the sound, shifts gait and nature with every passing clutch of seconds and inventive twist. Vocally Makazaria growls as he leads the boisterous revelry, feet soon a blur in return and hips swinging to the breakout of ska seeded hooks. Like a mix of Kontrust and Tankus The Henge, the track sets the union between album and listener off in rigorously contagious and thrilling style, especially with its fifties rock ‘n’ roll detour towards its exhausting climax.
The following Slap Your Face equally has the senses and imagination aflame, and again it all starts with an irresistible entrance which this time is blessed with the kind of blaze of brass that Roxy Music cast in their heyday. Soon metal riffs and beats back up its tempting, the mix persistently punctuating the ska seeded funk swagger which soon breaks out. As the first, the song is a flowing stroll of infectiousness and invention. Its fusion of sound reminds of Biting Elbows and Gogol Bordello at times with the added spice of King Kurt in for good measure, and fair to say that if as its predecessor, it is not luring your body and vocal involvement within the first minute, you should check you have a pulse.
Hometown Polka calms things down a touch with a restrained saunter spiced by the teasing violin strings of Mia Nova which provide a charming welcome. Its catchiness is in full flow pretty much straight away though, growing with strength as lively crescendos to the song come littered with a throaty bassline, mass vocals lures, and swinging traditional temptation. The dark allure of H-G. Gutternigg’s potete (a hybrid of bass trumpet and trombone), only brings greater flirtation to the song, complementing the spicy trumpet of Rainer Gutternigg and the melodic dance set by Engel Mayr’s guitar simultaneously.
A further breath can be taken thanks to There Was A Time, a warm yet melancholic croon of voice and sound. Once more infectiousness is as ripe as the skills breeding the total seduction, the English sung reflection making another persuasion impossible to not join within one round of its chorus. The sublime persuasion is matched by the Latin sparked El Pueblo Unido, its Spanish sung and South American coloured tones the canvas for a rousing ska infused canter complete with climatic crescendos and mariachi like drama.
Lovegorod wears its ska influences with a broad creative smile whilst Parachute guided by the pulsating beats of Mario Stübler is a folk shaped swing of melodic and lyrical romance hugged by siren-esque harmonies and trembling Mediterrean caresses. Both songs hold attention and imagination in firm and pleasing hands but each finds itself over shadowed by the theatre of the following Let’s Die Together. Arguably the most traditionally Russian bred song on the album, it is a bordering on schizophrenic maelstrom of voice and sound which boils into a familiar and addictive quickstep. Its energy and passion increases with every swaying step, its roaring catchiness of band cries over a deeply hooking swing, sheer inescapable virulence.
One major triumph is backed by another in the noir lit prowl of Salty Rain. Dark rock ‘n’ roll with a healthy spice of jazz and melodic sultriness, the song swiftly entrances body and imagination, once again hips coaxed into eager movement as the immersive narrative grabs thoughts. A core ska spine of guitar binds the outstanding track’s varied beauty together, alone manipulating limbs before letting You Are The Revolution flick the switch to another raucous outpouring of sound, attitude, and energy. Metal and punk collude to create the raw and gripping stomping with the bass of Dimitrij Miller, not for the first time, a prime protagonist in song and ears. Of course as volatile as it is, there is a contagion to its tempest which is just as mouth-watering as the turbulence around it.
Peace, Love And Russian Roll concludes with firstly the country rock/folk croon of Radio Song, a serenade as lyrically mischievous as it is musically tangy, and finally its title track. The last song’s name just about sums up it and the album’s contents, Russian rock devilry spawned by the theme of uniting in the good things to make life and the planet a better place. It is a glorious end to another delicious slab of unpredictable and inimitable aural festivity. If pushed previous album Energia! with its less polished and more of a raw toning still edges it as our favourite Russkaja moment but Peace, Love & Russian Roll is right up there leaving so many other offerings this year in its wake.
Peace, Love & Russian Roll is available now via Napalm Records http://shop.napalmrecords.com/russkaja