Ruyan (Руян) - Lebed' Belaya (Лебедь белая); Special Edition Digipack with Bonus Track
Released January 2016 (Original album released April 2014)
Reviewed 19th November 2016 by Korpi
Organized by Char and Rodonitsa formerly of Grai (Грай), ex-Alknost guitarist Skorb, and members of Amederia in 2010, Ruyan was bound to produce good pagan metal and Lebed' Belaya hasn’t disappointed. The current concept of the band seems to be a harder hitting version of Alkonost (Алконост) with a larger emphasis on the lower end of frequency spectrum and reverberation. It's much less folky than their previous album Heritage (Наследие), which seemed to follow a pattern closer to Grai's works.
Setting the mood for the for the album, the first track features harrowing clear and gutturals excellently executed by Rodonitsa with a comparably dismaying riff that breaks in half way through. Emotionally it is the equivalent of the facial expression when facing a no win situation. As expected such a first track can only be followed-up by an overwhelming show of force in guitar and drum work; from there on the feeling of being tossed about on a riptide becomes common, interlaced with only the occasional down-period accompanied by some narration and/or clear vocals.
Lyrically the album spins a tale presented in the manner of a folk story with dialogues between nature inspired characters, often confronting death and tragedy likely rooted in local mythology. The variation between cleans, gutturals, and narration is used to convey this tale in a musical theater like format.
Being completely bias in favor of the Slavic pagan metal sound and the route it's been heading since its early days, I am tempted to say this album is perfect. However I must digress that I cannot make such a claim in full certainty without speaking fluent Russian nor without living in a region where underground artists of the sub-genre are available for comparison. The bonus track on the special edition, a cover of Butterfly Temple's Secret Surface of Navi (Тайные глади Нави), is a nice nod to one of the sub-genre's early bands. Overall a great release which is better than a simple rerelease of the original 2014 album.
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