• Ария / Aria - В жёлтом круге арены / At the yellow circle arena (2012) - What a powerful live album! - 98% (26/05/14)

    Ария / Aria -  В жёлтом круге арены / At the yellow circle arena (2012)

    Russian heavy metal legends Ария prove that their genre is still alive and well and have become its most consistent representative act in the entire world. While other heavy metal bands struggle over personal line-up changes, their age or more and more experimental and progressive influences, all these elements don't keep this band away from delivering pure and yet relevant new heavy metal records. These Russians recently went through an important line-up change. Ten years after the departure of popular original singer Valeriy Kipelov, the successful successor Arthur Berkut also left the band three years ago and got replaced by a young and energizing singer named Mikhail Zhitnyakov of the heavy power metal outfit Гран-КуражЪ.

    Now, the new line-up also came around with a first glorious live release recorded in their hometown Moscow that is entitled "В жёлтом круге арены" or “The Yellow Circle Arena”. While fans of most Western heavy metal bands from Iron Maiden to Saxon desire to listen to the old classics, the enthusiastic crowd here cheers the amazing new tracks as much as the pioneer works of the band. We are just three minutes into the brand new opener "Чёрный квадрат" or “Black Square” and you can see the entire band jumping around on scene and the crowd going insane. The band continues with another new track which is the epic "Бои без правил" or “Fights Without Rules” that includes massive sing along parts and a chorus to make you want to kneel before the band. There is no difference of quality in comparison to the older songs and the fans seem to know the new songs as well by heart as they know their classics. My favourite new song of the band called "История одного убийцы" or “The Story Of A Murderer” is as magical on stage as it has been on the last studio album. The crowd claps its hands and sings along in the calm opening parts and goes mad in the atmospheric but unchained middle part of the melodic epic. The instrumental performance and the crystal clear vocals of the song sound technically perfect without lacking energy. You can see young and beautiful women on the backs of their boyfriends, old heavy metal veterans with big smiles on their faces as well as young children bang, cheer and dance along to the music. Heavy metal simply unites all sexes and ages.

    The band didn’t forget to include a few classics in their set. Let’s take one of last decade’s greatest heavy metal anthems called "Колизей" or “Coliseum”. The song is just eleven years old but as legendary as the band’s earliest successes. The crowd goes crazy once again, sings along to the majestic chorus and the band just rules the song with big smiles on their faces while performing the highly melodic and epic middle part that shows us how great this band still is and how great Iron Maiden and Manowar once upon a time were as well. "Последний закат" or "Last Sunset" is another melodic heavy metal anthem which is only eight years old by now but the song must still be cited as highlight on this release. It mixes atmospheric and epic verses with a highly melodic chorus that ends on a heavier note. It's the kind of more laid back heavy metal song that convinces with an unforgettable chorus.

    The band closes the concert with two energizing performances of their classics "Герой асфальта" or “Hero Of Asphalt” and "Улица роз" or “Rose Street” and you don’t even recognize that the band is playing in 2012 and not in 1987 anymore. The more recent members perform the songs as if they were their own and as if they had just written them a few days ago and were overtly enthusiastic to expose their new works to the fans for a very first time. Just to give you an idea, the new singer was eight years old when the original "Герой асфальта" or “Hero Of Asphalt” record was released in a slowly dying Soviet Union and it’s incredible how he manages to perform the song as good as the original singer.

    After nearly two hours of powerful live music the band leaves only to come back to perform the final encore "Дай жару!" or “Kick Some Ass!” from the milestone record "Игра с огнём" or “Play With Fire”. In the beginning, I was a little disappointed because I was expecting a performance of an epic classic such as "Волонтёр" or “Volunteer”, "Баллада о древнерусском воине" or “The Ballad Of An Ancient Russian Warrior” or ""Игра с огнём"" or “Play with Fire” which is undoubtedly one of the best heavy metal songs ever written. The amazing thing is that the band doesn’t even need to play these central milestones to convince me and make their fans go mad. Their back catalogue is strong enough to vary their set lists all the time. The closer easily beats the original studio version by far. It’s this live version that made me rediscover and fully enjoy this track that hadn’t really been on my map before. Needless to say that I think that the new live version is by far the best of this song.

    After two incredible hours of energy, pleasure and technical ecstasy, Aria leaves the stage and has once again carved its legendary status in stone. These guys are the living proof that heavy metal isn’t dead and still relevant in 2012. Go and get this package and feel what heavy metal is all about.

    Originally written for The Metal Observer

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