Vera : Russian Oprich walked into our life last year with a split CD with Chur and Piarevaracien, all bands hailing from Slavonic countries and graced with lyrics about pagan heritage. However, the band was already formed in 1998 with members of hardcore band Kontra, but there is (fortunately) nothing to hear anymore from that roots/genre. The pagan heritage is mainly noticeable in the lyrics, since musically it verges more to rock with clean storytelling voice. You have to get used to that voice of guitarist/founding member Yaromir, but after a few spins it has a kind of charm to listen to his interpretation of a Russian winter. Of course we mention the titles in English, but all songs are sung in Russian language.
The production is rather bare and musically it is quite simple. You have to make a click, being used to wealthy western productions. Once you have done that, Oprich appears to have a personal charm in all its simplicity. They use the sounds of thunder and lightning, a snow storm, a howling wolf and even throat singing in the songs, but most of all it is flutist Pan that leaps to the eye with his beautiful melodies in every song.
That happens already in a melancholic way in the opening track 'Valedictory Hymn'. So far I have the feeling of watching a local band in Slavonic countries. Very few ornaments and tricks, yet diverting to experience for once. 'The First Wintry Touches' starts with a slow plucking guitar and flute, then follows an outburst with low-pitched clean Cossack chants. Towards the end it becomes a bit so-so. The throat singing at the beginning of 'This Light And Joyous Death' sounds a bit like a didgeridoo. Then follows an up tempo song, in which clean vocals are echoed by a more raucous variant. In 'Beldam - Snowstorm' we hear tempestuous weather entering our living room, but here another folk instrument makes its entry. I am not sure which one, but Michail is responsible for folk instruments and it sounds like bagpipes, bassoon or shawm. It also reminds me of a local feast I once attended in Plovdiv (Bulgaria). That instrument is also present in 'The Sit - River' with storytelling vocals, slow riffs that join in and a double string picking with the sound of birds. Birds are featured on this album, although their absence in cold winter skies can be seen as main topic. Even though it remains cold for a long time in our areas this winter, it is nothing in comparison with Russian winters. A howling wolf and spoken part starts 'The Prophetic', with much vocals and flutes it is continued. The last track 'Soon, Very Soon!' is fast and heavy with ornaments of folk instruments and loads of energy. Slavonic melancholy is in force on this album, which shows an impression of a self-willed band.