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Aria - Guest from the Shadow Kingdom Award winner

Guest from the Shadow Kingdom
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 02 December 2019, 4:24 AM

Metal is such a wide genre that encompasses so many bands that, all too often, dozens upon dozens fall through the crack.  Take me, for example.  I have been listening to Metal for years and reviewing close to 100 albums a year—and that isn’t counting all the music I discover on my own time.  Despite that, ARIA somehow has escaped me my entire life…almost quite literally, as I was just two years old when they formed in 1985.  How has this band escaped me for so long?  Up until a few weeks ago, I had never heard their music or even their very name.  I don’t mean that in any negative capacity towards the band—some of the best bands of all time are unknown.  But it is a damn shame this band isn’t more famous.

I was told that ARIA were the Russian version of IRON MAIDEN.  Upon viewing this DVD and not only hearing but seeing this band for the first time, I would have to agree that is a pretty sound description of their sound.  Of course, I don’t view ARIA has a rip off—the two bands DO sound different.  However, the style is the same…dueling melodies, epic songs, soaring vocals.  Honestly, if you like IRON MAIDEN, I can’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy the hell out of ARIA as well.

As I will talk about in a moment, their stage show is extravagant and a spectacle to see.  As I stated, I don’t know much about the band so I can’t say if all their shows are full of these high production values or if they just went all out for the purposes of the DVD.  Regardless, this live concert is an epic experience for both the ears and eyes. The DVD’s quality is top notch—I own many concert DVDs and this one is just as high quality as the best of them, if not more so.  The picture is high resolution and just so crystal clear; every detail of their show can be seen with ease.

The camera work is also of exceptional quality—there is nothing that can ruin a live DVD more than a cameraman who either lingers too long on any one member or jumps around too much between everyone.  However, that isn’t the case here—every member gets ample screen time and it isn’t too jumpy at all.  The crowd also gets plenty of screen time—which is awesome because they clearly love this band and are happy to be there.  It really gives the DVD a legitimate concert feel.

The audio is extremely clear as well—every note on every instrument can be picked out.  The dueling melodies, the bouncy base, the riffs…everything is on point and heard remarkably well over the rabid fans.   Mikhail’s vocals shine through it all—he has a huge, powerful voice and a huge, powerful stage presence. The stage show is massive—there is a large floating platform in front of the stage that the often plays upon and it looks amazing.  The stage itself appears to be three levels and changes according to the songs.

Since I’m not very familiar with the songs, and the band sings in Russian, I don’t want to do any individual comments on the songs.  I will say, however, that even though I don’t speak the language, I can tell their songs tell stories and are very theatrical in the lyrics. The first song which is “Race For Glory,” must be about a ship of some sort because the floating platform has a bit ship wheel on it.  The stage has a background of skeletons, swords, and cannons—it all looks very slick and works well with the songs.

One of the coolest moments I’ve ever seen in a concert happens around an hour and seventeen minutes into it.  The singer gets in front of this giant cross, “crucifying” himself, and sings while being lowered through the air on this giant cross.  I had to watch this twice, it was so amazing that I couldn’t believe it—I have never seen anything like this before.

In essence, this is a perfect concert DVD.  Even though I had never heard the band before and can’t understand a word they are saying, I was still blown away by everything this package has to offer.  The band’s vocals and musicianship is amazing, the concert itself was insane, and the production values of the DVD are second to none.  This is highly recommended for fans of any type of Melodic Heavy Metal.  I really hope this show helps ARIA get more popular outside of Russia—they definitely deserve it.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Race For Glory
2. Kill The Dragon
3. Hero Of Asphalt
4. Era of Lucifer
5. The Curse Of The Seas
6. Colosseum
7. Baptism By Fire
8. Varyag
9. Point Of No Return
10. Let It Be
11. The Calm
12. Executioner
13. Antichrist
14. Deception
15. The Sky Will Find You
16. Night Shorter Than Day
17. Torero
18. Street Of Roses
Mikhail Zhitnyakov – Vocals
Vladimir Holstinin – Guitar
Sergey Popov – Guitar
Vitaly Dubinin – Bass
Maxim Udalov – Drums
Record Label: MB2A


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