[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(53:00 / MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. How Long I’d Been Facing the Dark 8:10 2. The Door to a Parallel World 7:46 3. Ride Without End 4:22 4. Too Close to Heavens 7:21 5. No Way Back 5:49 6. Visions of the Lost World 11:46 7. Revival 7:41 LINEUP: Elena Kanevskaya – keyboards; recorder; vocals Tatiana Kanevskaya – guitars Sergey Nikanorov – drums Dmitry Shtatnov – bass
Prolusion. ETERNAL WANDERERS is a progressive rock group from the capital of Russia, Moscow, and was formed by the Kanevsky sisters in 1997. In 1998 the band gave their first concert, after which they became an essential part of Moscow's underground scene, attracting the people with the uncommonness of their live performances, by using psychedelic slide shows on a big screen behind the stage. In 2001 they for the first time attracted the attention of some recording companies, which resulted in the appearance of their songs in several compilations, namely "Follow the Sun" and "Electroacoustic Music" Vol. VII and IX, presented by Electroshock Records. In 2006 the band's lineup finally stabilized, so soon after Eternal Wanderers entered the studio to record their first full-length album, “The Door to a Parallel World”, which saw the light of day shortly after the 2008 New Year holiday.
Analysis. This Russian quartet’s debut creation is a challenge to plenty of contemporary bands working within the art-rock and prog-metal idioms. Of the seven tracks here (with an average duration of about eight minutes), five contain vocals, though instrumental parts are usually dynamically evolving regardless of whether there’s concurrent singing, and therefore seem to be prevalent, both in length and influence. Shortly after its atmospheric beginning the opening track, How Long I’d Been Facing the Dark, gets a shape of what in future turns out to be the prevalent style here, startlingly progressive Hard Rock (which is synonymous to Prog-Metal utilizing overdrive units instead of distortion ones) with a perfect balance between symphonic and heavy sounds, developing with a fanfare of chugging guitar, swirling synthesizer and vibrating string ensemble, using multi-layered sonic constructions, complex stop-to-play moves, odd time signatures and so on. Ride Without End and No Way Back both evolve in a similar way: aggressive rhythm guitar and a driving rhythm section serve as a firm bottom end for lead guitar, recorder and various keyboards, though the first of these contains less dramatic transitions, due to its relatively short format, while the latter is progressively most saturated, probably the best track here (despite a couple of moves in the Jethro Tull manner), additionally notable for some East European folk colorations. The instrumental title track is overall much in the same vein as No Way Back, but without any direct influences. Too Close to Heavens starts off and unwinds as a complicated art-rock ballad with plenty of blazing acoustic guitar leads, but later on changes its trajectory twice, passing over some involved constructions within the domain of Doom Metal before transforming into symphonic Art-Rock of the first water in its final movement. Besides the aforesaid No Way Back, some outside factors can only be traced on the disc’s last two tracks, the instrumental Visions of the Lost World and the song Revival (a few Keith Emerson-inspired solos in both cases), but even then only in places, one time when Elena Kanevskaya plays organ, and another time when she turns on a Moog-related register of her synthesizer. Aurally darker than any other compositions, stylistically these two suggest a mixture of Symphonic Progressive, Space Rock and Doom Metal, though on the concluding track the latter component is less distinct. The group effortlessly slips from feverish battles with the use of big guns to calmer symphonic passages to spacey atmospheric landscapes, still retaining a strong sense of melody throughout. The level of musicianship is higher than average, with keyboardist and flutist Elena and her sister guitar player Tatiana standing out. Both have a good command of their respective instruments, deploying a variety of devices and techniques to sound fresh and resourceful. Nevertheless it’s definitely Elena who is the main star of this act, bearing in mind that not only did she write all the music and lyrics, but also handles two different instruments and all vocal duties. Though her English is slightly accented, her (unusual, fairly low) velvety voice is truly captivating, and she puts a lot of passion and inspiration into her singing.
Conclusion. “The Door to a Parallel World” is quite an apt title for this recording, considering the originality of the band’s approach. I’ll clarify what I mean. Although deploying almost exclusively classic, time-honored progressive rock styles in their music, Eternal Wanderers sound really unlike anyone else in most cases. I believe this is the best female-led progressive outfit to appear in the new century, and should receive a lot of well-deserved attention with their varied and innovative debut effort. Highly recommended, perhaps save those exclusively into Jazz or Avant-garde.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: February 15, 2008
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]