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TRACK LIST: Wings: 1. The Abyss 2:22 2. Doubts 3:30 3. Wings 4:32 4. The Beam of Light 3:33 5. Spring Forest 2:04 6. Inevitability 7:28 7. Above the Precipice 1:27 8. In the Deep of Fate 6:40 9. The Sea 3:32 Bonus tracks: 10. The Sun 5:02 11. Wonder 3:09 12. Merry-Making 4:08 All music: by Kulak, except 4, 5: Kulak / Afanasiev, 10 & 11: music & lyrics traditional, arr. by Kulak. Lyrics: by Kulak, A. Tulupov, & M. Jahlil. All arrangements: by Azazello. LINE-UP: Alexander Kulak - electric & acoustic guitars; vocals Vitos Afanasiev - keyboards; flute; backing vocals Idris Faridonoff - drums & percussion Dmitry Bakay - basses Produced by Kulak. Engineered by Kulak & Bakay.
Prolusion. As you may know, "Wings" is the third album by the best contemporary Prog band to come out of Russia at the end of the last millennium, AZAZELLO, which was first released by Moscow's Starless Records for the distribution on the territory of the ex-USSR only. Well, Mellow Records has finally issued its 'international' version, which is available to anyone of you dear readers of these lines. Those who are still unacquainted with the creation of Azazello, can read the reviews of their first two albums by clicking >here and >here. OK, my opinion on them is rather different than the most common progressive reviewer, but I have learned it by heart. Also, I can't write anything that would be different from my true thoughts. Honest. (By the way, all the same words are topical regarding the other two 'foreign' groups to whom I offered to place their official homepages on ProgressoR after being deeply impressed by their music. Of course, these are Garden Wall and Taylor's Universe).
Synopsis. Above all, it must be said that the 'Mellow' version of the album is simply much better than the original one. Really. It's not only because the album's title track is divided into nine parts, just as it was originally planned, but also and mainly due to the availability of two additional tracks: Wonder and Merry-Making (11 & 12). Each of them is a real gem and is of those rare musical experiences that most if not all of you don't have any idea of - unless you already own the CD. Unlike the Art-Rock ballad The Sun (10), a song from Alexander Kulak's unreleased solo album performed by him alone, these two are the products of the collaboration between Azazello (the entire band, of course) and the wonderful Russian female vocal group DIVO (Wonder). A combination of Progressive Rock and Russia's old folklore is the stylistic definition of these gems, which, though, is lifeless in this case, as that unique atmosphere, which reigns in these songs, cannot be properly conveyed with mere words - in order to truly appreciate them, they must be heard. As to the album's title track, this nine-part, yet, monolithic 35-minute epic is done in the band's highly original style found on their second effort, "Upstairs". This is somewhat of a classical music performed by dints of Prog-Metal and Symphonic Art-Rock with highly intriguing, mostly ever-changing arrangements. In detail, Wings, as well as The Sun, is described >here. I'd only add that the band's equipment on this album is quite vast and quite good. Apart from traditional Rock instruments, it includes flute, classical guitar, piano, vibraphone, and Russian folk instruments. So there are plenty of purely acoustic textures on the album as well. The listening to "Wings" is the easiest and the most realizable way to get into the world of a true Russian Progressive where the spirit of Russian music is really distinctive throughout.
Conclusion. I highly recommend that you to familiarize yourselves with Azazello by ordering "Wings", and also the band's second album, "Upstairs". This is also a unique masterpiece, without which the picture of their creation won't be complete, and by the way, it features very few vocals. (Today, it's obvious that the band's debut, "Black Day", is much inferior to any of these, so it's unnecessary to have it in your collection.) I am not asking you to support the band, which would be tactless, if not foolish. I recommend Azazello to you with all sincerity.
VM: May 4, 2004
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