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The Monster 5:26 Vladimir the Prince 8:04 Elijah of Murom Town 10:56 The Battle 9:18
Written and arranged by Alexander Sledin.
Line-up: Alexander Stedin - synthesizers, vocals; Anatoliy Molotov - vocals (band-leader); Irina Nikolaitchuk - vocals; Anna Dudanova - vocals; Nikolay Ryzhov - percussion; Alexander Tsyganov - bass guitar; Peter Akimov - cello; Tatiana Frenkel - violin; Galina Klokar - violin
Prologue. I am sorry in advance for several phrases of "the only" or "the only one" you'll find in this paragraph, though originally tautology is nothing but the forced yet defensible repetition of words or phrases in the same sentence, etc. So, let's start… There is not too much precise information on this Russian band in the CD booklet, and especially with regard to its future after releasing "Elijah" in the LP form +in 1989 of the last century. Epos was formed in 1986 and thanks, first of all, to the band's permanent concert activity their unique music was heard and appreciated by the people at the only Soviet label "Melodiya". Unfortunately, "Elijah" was the only one album released by Epos, because such well-known events as the fall and the following devastation of the USSR just took their course. The same words, though, can apply to plenty of other ex-Soviet artists, and of course, especially to those whose creation was non-commercial absolutely (remember Horizont, the best, I think, USSR band ever existed. Sad to know that. For example, Epos was a very special band, and their only release remains very special up to now - as really the only one such album in the whole 'progressive' world.
The album. As well as in the case with Pesniary's "Gusliar" , "Elijah" is another work of the Classic Rock Opera genre, considering their, as a matter of fact, progressivity (only that, though). But if "Gusliar" with its distinct originality is nevertheless based on the traditional Classic Symphonic Art Rock structures, formed in the early '70s, "Eliah" offers a kind of Progressive Rock you have never listened before. All the basic instrumental and vocal themes of "Elijah" were not just taken from the Old Russian music - they were composed exactly this "ancient way", having both forms of the Old Russian Epic - musical and lyrical - as main influences. Played with the same instruments as all the basic themes (violins, cellos, some percussion and barely notable touches of bass and keyboards) almost all arrangements here have the same, obviously ancient and very Russian flavour (not Celtic, Saxon, et. al. we are already familiar with). Thus, all in all, "Elijah" was the first and still is the only Acoustic Rock Opera. As for the "almost", there are just a few pieces of traditional progressive arrangements played with the fast keyboard passages and powerful work of the rhythm-section on the album that have a contemporary sound. The presence of bits of modern progressive arrangements on this monolithic and unique, really ancient musical landscape, seems justifiable because they are interspersed with antiquity there very appropriately. All the vocals parts were sung (of course) in the Old Russian language and all the male and female arias, as well as choruses, sound unusually yet fantastic to the accompaniment of mostly dramatic slow passages of violins. As for the string instruments in particular, I have never heard they to be sounding such specifically, such "anciently".
Summary. "Elijah" is something more than just a unique album. This masterpiece is undoubtedly a 'child' of Progressive Music, but it may be as if an "illegitimate child" of Progressive Rock that keeps aloof from anything created within the genre. Check it out and discover another new 'progressive territory' and get great pleasure, like a pioneer, listening to this ancient beauty, charming so mysteriously on the threshold of the third millenium.
"Boheme Music" website is at:
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VM. January 1, 2001
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