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Monday, October 18, 2021

Review: Zmey Gorynich – Чёртовы пляски

Label: Soundage Productions

Date: June 4th, 2020

There’s just no way this could work. Not a shred of possibility. How could it? Really!? It does!? Impossible!

When I think of deathcore, I think of the most boring, uninspiring and colourless genre ever created. Except for a couple of first born bands, the rest are just derivative nonsense. Brutality and misplaced anger set to explode without any previous consideration.

So, where do I turn for a bit of colour to the mix? Americans basically invented the genre and, unfortunately, made it as bland as it is. Think of their complete opposite… Yeah, you got it! Moscow, Russia. Zmey Gorynich, ladies and gentlemen!

And how the hell did they do it? They added Russian folklore to the mix. And it really shouldn’t work. I mean, we have a terrifyingly brutal genre versus a jolly, danceable accordion (plus a couple more instruments) and a playful female voice on top of bone-chilling growls and screams. Also, there is this impossible to cope with rhythmical disparity. On one hand, there is sledgehammer pounding and frightening blasting speed. On the other, there are those “broken rhythms”, traditional to Slavic folklore. Also, Zmey Gorynich added an epic touch to a couple of tracks, mostly using a multitude of vocals and monumental keyboard work.

By the way, I’m no expert in Russian language, but from what I could gather, the tenth song on the album is dedicated to Santa Claus. And the one after it is a Prodigy cover. Followed by a cover of Jennifer Lopez.

And now you are as confused as you possibly can be. Let me start clarifying the situation.

What Zmey Gorynich did first was to add a dosage of melody to the heavy hammering deathcore. By doing so, they even came close to some modern melodic death metal. I swear I could hear Children of Bodom occasionally. Particularly in the segments where the keyboards play a bigger role. That way they allowed themselves an easier access to mixing the not mixable. Very often you can hear a definite duelling between the guitars and accordion. Sometimes the keyboards also get in that “fight”. Those moments, against the odds, do keep the weight of sound.

Now, for those rhythmical problems, the Russians used a tried and tested formula. Korpiklaani is the most obvious influence. Fusing two different ends of the musical spectrum was never an easy task, but it is solvable. Especially with the creative effort on display here. The drummer deserves a review of his own, just for the way he made the transitions between separate parts fluent.

What concerns the mentioned vocals in combination with keyboards, these often remind me of later era Dimmu Borgir. Well, if they would just add a bit of Russian folklore to their sound. Just count the vocal variations used. Even without the expected screams, growls and said female clean voice. Zmey Gorynich also uses a couple of operatic voices. Both male and female. Sometimes in unison. Male choir is added to a couple of tracks too. Female voice is often layered to mimic polyphony, another Slavic music tradition.

Not to drag this review to infinity, you should really try this. Albums like “Чёртовы пляски“ are incredibly rare to come by. And not just because the record itself bears a certain novelty. Fact is that the work of these Russians is simply amazing. I can easily place their second album in my top ten for this gruesome year. This is the record that should spark your imagination. And it surely will, if you would just give it a chance. Absolute recommendation from my part!