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Aria - Curse Of The Seas Award winner

Curse Of The Seas
by Kevin Burke at 06 January 2019, 1:51 PM

In ninety eighty-five, from behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ roared the voice of Heavy Metal in the band ARIA.  Once dubbed by the media —the “Russian IRON MAIDEN”, these guys began to break down the barriers with a sonic rebellion very early on.  They however,  did not so much knock on the door of mainstream success, instead they blew it off its hinges to instantly establish themselves as a brand.  Now, some thirty-four years later they return with a new album, in the sublime “Curse Of The Seas”.

This album is a killer, an instant classic with old-school charm, updated with the flair of the latest technologies.  It never loses its direct impact and stays true to the original sound of ARIA from back in the day.  It is however an album sung in their native-tongue of Russian, which is something to take note of.  But, since the days of Serge Gainsbourg and more recently RAMMSTEIN, we are being taught that regardless of the dialect of the lyrics, good music will always captivate a listener and thankfully that is the case here.

On “Curse Of The Seas” there is enough passion on display to transcend most releases by the old-guard of legends. Our journey earnestly into these eleven-tracks of adrenaline-fueled angst starting with “Race For Glory”, their DNA is at the very core of the sound, in every erupting drum beat and distorted running-guitar riff the band explode into action. “Varyag” opens with strings and a reflective piano, before the gears switch menacingly with a choral-backing, this atmospheric track keeps the thunder loose.  Of course “Lucifer” is the cross-breed of Los Angeles glam-Metal and that European new-wave glorious sound,  wrapped in the blanket of ARIA’s unique delivery.

A wonderful high-pitched, intensely tapped solo opens “Let It Be”, a reflective ballad thankfully does not muddy the waters of the song cycle. The treasure to excavate here are numerous, on “Alive” a significantly modern approach is taken to the song’s construction, wholly entertaining, not at the speed of other sections of the album but enjoyable nonetheless. “Kill The Dragon” with it’s distorted vocals and stuttering guitar opening, a menacing animal struts across the track, ARIA display a flamboyance in this punchy highlight.  The listener is flung back towards the rapids with “From Sunset To Sunrise”, a hint of SCORPIONS through the pipes of Mikhail Zhitnyakov are without doubt a treat for the senses, that’s before mentioning how Eddie Van Halen is almost outdone with the solo here.

The twelve-minute opus title track brings the album to an inspired completion.  There is little to complain about here, the tracks are outstanding as is the production, the confidence of ARIA is colossal and seeps into every crevice of the album.  Releasing a work such as this internationally, sung in Russian may sound like a wrong turn to some, fortunately it proves to be the opposite.  The sheer talent of the band translates perfectly whilst the vocal delivery brings an element of drama to the affair.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Race for Glory
2. Varyag
3. Lucifer
4. Hard to Be God
5. Let It Be
6. Lust Run
7. Alive
8. Kill the Dragon
9. Smoke without Fire
10. From Sunset to Sunrise
11. Curse of the Seas
Vladimir Holstinin – Guitar
Vitaly Dubinin – Bass Guitar / Backing Vocals
Mikhail Zhitnyakov – Vocals
Sergey Popov – Guitar
Maxim Udalov – Drums
Record Label: M2BA


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Edited 28 November 2022

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