Aria - Armageddon
Moroz Records
Heavy Metal/NWOBHM
10 songs ()
Release year: 2006
Aria Official Website
Reviewed by Cody

Despite being created in a world where creativity influenced by Western culture was frowned upon, Aria took hold of a formula created by "capitalistic" influences (primarily Iron Maiden) and created the longest lasting and most influential heavy metal band in Russian history. To the West, Aria represents the spread of Iron Maiden's influence to Eastern nations, and proud example of heavy metal's limitless boundaries, even in the face of Soviet poverty and oppression. To Russians though, Aria represents a household name; a staple in the Russian heavy metal diet. Many critics cite Aria as bringing the popularity of heavy metal to Russia (which is known to be a loyal outpost for all things heavy), yet, for some reason, this major act has seen little acclaim, and only a little recognition on this site courtesy of Alex. Therefore, after finding out that Aria released an album in 2006 entitled Armageddon, I had to take it upon myself to see if Aria were still in the business of making heavy hitting epics such as Ballad of an Ancient Russian Warrior and The Battle Continues. So, without further ado, lets get into the bread and butter of Aria's latest.

The first thing that I notice about Armageddon is the less than stellar production. Aria is obviously attempting to modernize their sound by bringing heavy guitars to the forefront of the production value, which sometimes pays off in big ways (see Saxon's Lionheart), but in this case, the result is overpowering against all the other aspects of the band, particularly the vocals. While new vocalist Artur Miheev is no Valery Kipelov, he still deserves an equally defined position as the guitars in the band, but alas, the result leaves Artur's vocal performance, however good or bad, in the background of the barrage of guitars. In addition to the lack of consistent equality for all members of the band in the production, the dominant guitars are not even driven with especially great riffs! That's right, the great melodic and epic riffs that defined this band for so many years are not especially apparent on this album (at least at the standards that Aria should have). While the guitar work is not bad by any means, it tends to hinder the value of the music when placed in such high regard by the producers.

As far as positives go, Aria do have some rockin' tunes on this album! Blood of Kings is as epic as they come, and if I knew Russian, i'd be singing along eveyrtime I heard this song. That's right, every song on this album is in Russian (as is most of Aria's back catalog, which unfortunately has hindered their success in Western markets), but to this reviewer, this is all positive, as it truly shows that Aria knows how to please their fans. Back to the songs though, Blood of Kings truly has a great epic feel to it, and brings the listener through many different emotions (as any good epic tune should) and is by far the best song on the album. This song is representative of Aria of old, and is not hindered by the production value that holds back a number of other tracks. In addition to Blood of Kings, a number of other songs hold some promise in various parts with some great, heavy riffs that were made to headbang to, however, few songs really maintain their kick ass tendencies and leave me teetering off into boredom awaiting the return of the kick ass riffs. One song that does stand out in the vocal department is the final track, Your Day Has Come which allows Miheev to displays his talents, if only briefly. Overall, this album is unfortunately not an album that you listen to from beginning to end; this is a pick and choose record with some songs worth listening to repeatedly.

For those who have yet to listen to these legends, you are truly missing out. Aria's back catalog is enormous, and criminally underappreciated in the West. While Armageddon is not by any means their best effort, it is still a good representation of their sound, so while I would normally only recommend this to die hards, this could give the uninitiated a portal into their better material. For long time Aria fans, go out and buy this album, as you will undoubtedly enjoy it!

Killing Songs :
Blood of Kings
Cody quoted 65 / 100
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