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Friday, September 12, 2014

Album Review: Steny Lda – Beloe Bezmolvie

The infinite joys of throwing Russian track titles at Google Translate and watching it explode is tempered somewhat by the bleak, monosyllables that emerge from it. Lumps of wording like “Stern Wind”, “Ice Storm, Ball Above Earth”, “In Black Sun Rays” and “Endless Snowy Expanses, Illuminated Radiance, Eternally Cold Stars” still resonate despite their cumbersome quality.

It’s no surprise then to discover that the PR blurb professes this to be a thematic work exploring “the power of cold, its northern and Antarctic nature, and the grandeur of eternal winter”. That thought is drilled home by the album inlay of snapshots of sailors fighting raging seas and glacial locations. Obviously, it’s something of a disappointment then to discover the music feeling so luke-warm. The seemingly endless, subtly shifting synth backdrops are austere in tone but the string work is rich, plump and vibrant and the drums patter along at an untaxing, gentile pace.

Swimming in the same post-metal waters as bands like Russian Circles, Isis and Red Sparowes, Beloe Bezmolvie (or White Silence) opens up with “Fordevind”, a wave-battering crush that confusingly shares its space with calm waters and soft surf. There’s also something enigmatically graceful about the 11-minute “Ledjanoj Shtrom…”. From an opening, almost balletic, emotive riff to the 3-minute directionless, warbled ending the whole ensemble mimics the piece-by-piece joyful storytelling of Russian Circles when their theme demands that they be venturing into the dark, forbidding spaces of Cult Of Luna.
 
Wonderfully, just as you think the album has run adrift, the wreck breaks on these twin glacial outcrops – the blunt death metal of “Svincovo-Serye Oblaka…” and the doomy “Drejfujushhie V Tumane Ajsbergi…” Here, the beast finally roars and beneath all the clamouring, the crafty score finally reveals its blackened soul.

It’s intriguing that Sterny Lda seem to have no problem with emotion when it comes to dishing out the hard and fast tracks – “Beskrajnie Snezhyne…” and “Soprovtilenie…” are both songs that successfully kick up a storm. However, when they need to apply a more delicate touch to extract a different emotion they do struggle – You’d hope that conveying the psychological torment of the bleak and the endless wastelands of the Artic might be something to get your teeth into, yet “Holod Zemli” is frustratingly a somewhat toneless, sluggish and ultimately hollow attempt when compared alongside that of others.

Some good, some bad and something of a sheep in wolf’s clothing then, but ignore the theme, look deeper and you’ll still discover plenty to get your teeth into.

Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2014/09/steny-lda-beloe-bezmolvie-slowburn/
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