• Another solid melodic heavy metal band from Russia - A review of Activator's Шаг в бесконечность / Step Into Infinity

    Activator - Шаг в бесконечность (2013)

    Activator's first release The Guardian of Life was a gripping metal opera with five diversified vocalists, numerous great songwriting ideas and a generous running time of about fifty-six minutes. Later that year, the band already released its second effort which is completely different from the first album. It's a regular band album and doesn't feature any guest vocalists. The songwriting walks on the line between traditional heavy and melodic power metal without any particular surprises. The record comes around with seven songs and a short instrumental overture making for a running time of only thirty-eight minutes.

    Step into Infinity isn't a bad album. It has several elements going for it. It sounds more focused than the predecessor as it finds the right mixture between crunchier heavy metal passages and liberating power metal melodies. Due to its short length, the record doesn't include any fillers and should please to genre fans who like groups like Alexy's Square, Aria, Charizma, Grand Courage and Phaeton to only name a few.

    There are a couple of very good songs on the album like ''The Day Will Come'' and ''Mist'' that meander between almost symphonic soundscapes supported by melodic and at times high-pitched vocals and a few meaner up-tempo passages with great drum play and sharp riffs. ''White Crane'' is the dreamy ballad with acoustic guitars and sound samples building up an appeasing atmosphere before the song gets gradually heavier and features what might be this record's greatest sequence of guitar solos. On the other side, ''Ab Inito'' quickens up the pace and almost ventures into speed and thrash metal territories if it weren't for the angelic vocals and the soft keyboard sounds in the background. Activator knows how to craft solid melodic heavy metal inspired by the genre's greatest bands.

    On the other side, this is also the record's problem. It's enjoyable to listen to Activator's Step into Infinity once or twice but it's nowhere near as unique as the debut album. This album is just another melodic heavy metal album following the recent rise of young melodic metal bands from Russia. Activator has lost the certain something that made the first strike so convincing. It's almost as if the two records had been recorded by two entirely different groups.

    If you are a follower of Russian heavy metal and like the bands mentioned above, you can give Activator's Step into Infinity a few spins and won't be disappointed. If you were however expecting another impressive conceptual metal opera release, this record will end up disappointing you. It would have made more sense if the band had released this simpler record before its more ambitious metal opera project. Despite being objectively good, this second output must be evaluated as a step back and slight disappointment. What is even more confusing is the fact that the band had released the two records within one single year and yet hadn't released anything before and hasn't released anything after these two outputs. I'm curious if we are going to hear from Activator again but I sure do hope so.

    Final rating: 75%

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