RUSSKAJA… never heard of these guys. It appears to be a band consisting of Russians, Ukrainians and Austrians. And they don’t play regular Metal, rather focus on other styles and add a touch of Metal to it. It is said that they mix Polka, Thrash Metal, World Jazz and Zappa-Rock (whatever that may be) and call the end result “Russian Turbo Polka Metal”.
The band was formed in 2005 (by Georgij A. Makazaria, then vocalist in the Thrash Metal band STAHLHAMMER) and it took them three years to put out their debut full-length “Kasatchok Superstar” (2008). Another three years later, in 2008, the follow-up came out, titled “Russian Voodoo”. Anno 2013, in April, album number three is available for the masses: “Energia!”. And judging by its title, you can be sure it’s not a Doom Metal album. 😉
With regards to live performances, the band has already played in Germany with 4 concerts at the world’s greatest Metal festival “Wacken Open Air”. These appearances were swiftly followed by shows at Chiemsee Reggae Festival, Nova Rock, World music and Jazz festivals and more than 30 festivals across the continent only last year (2012).
“Energia!” contains twelve tracks, beginning with the title track. It’s a fun song, uplifting even and it ROCKS! Not just the Jazz/Polka/Folk stuff, but also the chorus, which is where guitar and drums give it a little kick. Trumpets are the constant spice throughout the album. While English is used in the bridge, the rest is sung in Russian, which goes actually quite well with the music. “Barada” offers the same, but is more relaxed, so to speak. It does have a nice rhythm and swing.”Radost Moja” kranks it up a little, it’s got more swing, more drive. And check that rhythm section! The trumpet accents are well done. Add a humppa chorus and sniff of Rock and another qualitative song is ready. I did have images of the Charleston dance in my head while listening.
“Autodrom” brings back the heavier side of the music, the Rock! Take fast, Folky swing with the trumpet in a key role and add Rock ‘n’ Roll. And make it a little more eccentric, a little crazier than the other songs. *BANG!*, another song in the bank. There’s even room for a solo or two, delivered by trumpet and violin. “Istanbul” is another Folky, dancey song. The beginning of the chorus reminded me of ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” hit, as it starts in exactly the same manner. “Viola Mia” is more laid-back and straight-forward. It swings, though, sounds more Funky. “Kartuli Vino” is a song with more drive and once again that typical humppa beat. When it’s time to ROCK!, the trumpet’s melody almost sounds like an announcement: “Look, it’s Zorro!”. 🙂
More humppa stuff can be found in “Surrealnaja”, where again the trumpet leads the way. “Dikije Deti” is another fast track. It swings, it’s got groove, and the addition of the guitar doesn’t really change the song, rather makes it sound a bit heavier. Nevertheless, RUSSKAJA know what they’re doing. Oh yes, there’s a guitar solo, too. The band slows down a little in “Ajajaj”. Same ingredients as throughout the album, though. However, I’m not so fond of the female vocals here. “Tanzi Tanzi” is another highlight – as are most tracks on this album – with its pedal to the metal Rocker of a song. Shake those legs, baby! All ends with the ballad “Sorry”, which isn’t bad, but not super either.
If you ever need an energy boost, or feel down and want to be cheered up, then RUSSKAJA is one band (as is e.g. DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA) you have to consider and “Energia!” an album you must add to your collection. The mix of Rock (there’s not really any Thrash here, let’s be honest), Funk, Jazz, Polka, Ska, Folk, … is very well done. Definitely one of the best albums of 2013, even if the amount of Metal is very low.
- Radost Moja (feat. Wladimir Kaminer + Yuriy Gurzhy)
- Istanbul (feat. Ozden Öksüz)
- Violina Mia
- Kartuli Vino
- Dikije Deti
- Ajajaj (feat. Mizgebonez)
- Tanzi Tanzi
Georgij Makazaria – vocals
Engel Mayr – guitar
Ulrike Müllner – violin
Rainer Gutternigg – trumpet
H-G. Gutternigg – potete
Dimitrij Miller – bass
Mario Stübler – drums