Friday, December 23, 2022

Full Length Review: KiaRa "Archangel" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: KiaRa
Country: Russia
Genre: Symphonic metal
Full Length: Archangel
Format: CD, digital
Label: Independent
Release date: October 14, 2022
In six of the twelve years Imperial Age built renown in the world of Russian symphonic metal, Anna Moiseeva has been a voice for their historical and paganistic imagination. Having contributed to their massive soundscapes, she is doing the same with a solo project she founded in the late 2010s. Her new effort “Archangel” is one she touts as of a higher level of maturity and professionalism to her previous efforts "Storyteller" from 2020 and "Online Winter Show" from 2021.
Beginning with “Storyteller”, KiaRa has done a more than commendable job channeling the singers, writers and artisans of antiquity. Their tendency toward archaic folk music is like a rebirth of those ancient times, long before the age of contemporary beliefs and even before the middle ages. Within the raw disposition of their black and death metal elements is an emotive neopagan discourse broadening with each album. “Archangel” is a renaissance of the primeval spirit to be hearkened to.
Most of the songs appearing on KiaRa’s second album “Online Winter Show” were taken from "Storyteller" with one that would be recorded for “Archangel”. January 2021 saw the band promoting themselves through a live show streamed on Youtube which they recorded for a bigger audience. People may have heard a few things they missed before, particularly keyboard, string and wind instruments and irreligious/traditional attributes. Moiseeva’s vocal range was also starting to assume a larger role.
Watching three video clips from the online show gave me a better understanding of KiaRa's direction; "Sister", "Curse", and "Last Goodbye". The atmosphere surrounding the stage show made it easy to become immersed in the multiple layers of sound emanating from the band as well as their distinctiveness. Their musicianship and vibe reflected what they achieved recording "Archangel" in the studio. There would be more ground covered once the next album was released.
This album has a massive sound filled with subtle, delicate shadings and stringent distinctions. KiaRa's extreme metal roots and Moiseeva's harmonious voice make up the most pronounced component of "Archangel", but that's not all. From song to song, it moves through a variety of musical settings while maintaining its weight, density, and pensiveness. An incendiary, morose, romantic, and well-flavored metal opera, "Archangel" explores metal's operatic qualities in new, imaginative ways.
Moiseeva gives inner light and enlightenment to "Archangel" within its cold darkness. Her vocals resonate with innocence, longing, remembrance, hope, the belief that the soul can reincarnate, and a questioning of traditional depictions of good and evil. The varying songs and these lyrical themes go hand in hand, especially when it comes to the keyboards. They can accompany other instruments like teardrops or rain falling into a lake, but they can also be so subtle that you hardly notice them.
Check out the amalgam of metal, goth, opera and classical music and see how these influences are inventively and beautifully arranged if you think you've heard everything in underground metal. It will reawaken your wonder at discovering new music from a younger age. -Dave Wolff

Anna Moiseeva: Vocals, keyboards
Pavel Maryashin: Guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Dmitry Bazanov: Bass
Max Talion: Drums

Track list:
1. God of War
2. By the Grace of the Lord
3. Жена князя (Prince's Wife)
4. Requiem for the Immortality
5. Black Sun
6. Nostalgia
7. Hope
8. Last Goodbye
9. Heart of Life
10. We are the Stardust
11. Archangel
12. Мы - звёздная пыль
13. Архангел
14. By the Grace of the Lord (orchestral version)
15. God of War (orchestral version)
16. Archangel (orchestral version)

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