Alexy’s Square - Risk Zone (2014)
Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
Alexy’s Square (Алексеевская площадь) is a melodic heavy metal band from Samara in Russia that was founded in 2010. The project has been quite diligent, releasing two studio records as well as several singles and compilation contributions. Risk Zone (Зона риска) is the latest release by mastermind Kirill Evseev, who performs vocals, guitars, bass guitars, and keyboards on the album. He is musically supported by drummer “The Priest”, and intellectually guided by poetic writer Anatoliy Zhukov. The inclusion of external song writers and poets isn’t an unusual thing in Russia, and often offers interesting new dimensions.
This record features quite a lot of harmonious and soothing melodies. Many passages recall some of the calmer and more commercial heavy metal and hard rock bands of the eighties such as Aria, Bonfire, Cinderella, Def Leppard, and Gary Hughes. Appeasing guitar melodies meet some enchanting keyboards and orchestration as seen in the solid opener “In Vain” (“Впустую”). From time to time, a few electronic elements add an atmospheric touch to this concept, such as in the closing moments of “Online” (“Онлайн”). These passages may sometimes sound spacey, or add some kind of conceptual radio play atmosphere like in the beginning of “This City” (“Этот город”). Thirty years ago, these elements would have sounded progressive when performed by acts such as Queensrÿche, but they are neither elaborate enough nor pushed to a more contemporary level to stand out on this release. Instead, the melodic heavy metal style is coherently supported by mid-tempo-based song writing and the use of grounded melodic vocals.
I’ve already previewed the negative portions of this release. The melodic, mid tempo song writing doesn’t vary enough. The ten main tracks with running times from four to six-and-a-half minutes sound a bit exchangeable, old-fashioned, and unspectacular after a while. The record has a clear guiding line that doesn’t allow any experimentation or surprises. I’m also missing a few edges in the production. While the guitar play and the keyboards are very strong, and the vocals of a good average quality, the rhythm section is unspectacular. A few exceptional cases, like the more dynamic “Heartbreath” (“Дыхание сердца”), show that the band is actually able to sound more balanced and organic by integrating all instruments to the fullest. The trio could have done a better job, and should elaborate on songs like these for a possible future album.
The record still features a little surprise at the end. The band picked one of its catchiest tracks, entitled “Closing Himself” (“Собою закрывая”), wrote some new English lyrics, and invited Blaze Bayley of Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane fame to perform alternate vocals on “Hero”. The final version is an atmospheric, enchanting, and memorable track where Bayley’s vocals work very well. This track should get the project some well-deserved international attention.
In conclusion, Risk Zone is a charming, old-fashioned melodic heavy metal release that is easy to listen to and offers many catchy guitar and keyboard melodies and vocal parts that could come straight from the eighties. The album has a very relaxing flow and coherency, if somewhat repetitive song writing. If you feel like taking a break from your everyday life, this mellow record will deliver you a laid back ride without any turbulence. Don’t expect anything sharp, innovative, or engaging, and you might end up enjoying this peaceful release as much as I do.
3.25 // 5