Russia keeps heavy metal alive - A review of Grand Courage's / Гран-КуражЪ "Live Like No One Else / Жить как никто другой"
In most places around the world, heavy metal has become a dying genre. The few heavy metal bands that are still around are either veterans like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon or rather exchangeable revival groups such as Enforcer, Striker and White Wizzard. Russia is a positive exception to this rule as heavy metal is still a quite popular genre in this country. Contemporary bands such as Alexy's Square, Charizma and Grand Courage hold the heavy metal banner high while bands of past glory such as Aria, Black Coffee and Master are still quite present with some new members in their line-up. Both parts of this heavy metal movement also have positive influences on each other. Grand Courage's former singer has joined Aria and given this group a real boost and Charizma's drummer is having a second stint with Master to only name two examples. These new members have a rejuvenating effect on Russia's very first heavy metal bands while people become aware of the new members' former bands and discover their groups.
Grand Courage has moved on even though its former vocalist has permanently joined Aria. The new record which could be translated to Live Like No One Else is the group's first studio record after this important line-up change but the band picks us up right where the last release left us five years earlier. This album offers melodic heavy metal with all its classic trademarks. The opening title track ''Жить как никто другой'' has a slightly epic and mysterious atmosphere thanks to decently employed keyboard sounds but the passionate and variable melodic vocals add a solid dose of energy to this balanced opener. The band also offers a few hard rock ballads such as ''Огненный закат'' focusing on harmonious piano melodies and emotional vocals that are once again perfectly performed by new singer Evgeniy Kolchin who also collaborates with another Russian heavy metal legend named Sergey Mavrin who once was a member of Aria. ''Да будет эта ночь'' proves that heavy metal can harmonize with modern elements. The sound is a little bit more contemporary with heavier riffs than usual and dominant bass guitar sounds that seem to have a funk rock influence while the gripping melodic chorus recalls contemporary radio rock bands in a positive way. This song could please both fans of the veteran bands and younger audience as it mixes traditional and contemporary elements in a clever way.
While Grand Courage's music is crafted with undeniable passion, inspiration and freshness, it obviously doesn't reinvent the genre either and fails to come around with a truly impressive song that adds something new. The band isn't on the level of the legends of the early years yet but it's getting quite close which is promising for the future of heavy metal. In the end, this album is highly recommended to those who like melodic heavy metal and don't mind the occasional ballad or slightly more commercial radio rock tune in between honest heavy metal tracks. This album represents what contemporary heavy metal should sound like in order to survive. It appeals to a larger audience and doesn't mind adding a few minor experiments here and there which might not please metal purists but which will get a new generation into this type of music. The band isn't just copying its idols like so many bands in Western Europe and North America do but already has its very own distinctive sound which deserves some attention and respect. In my opinion, this release could have been a little bit heavier but it's still overall balanced, creative and entertaining. It fusions classic trademarks of the eighties with a more modern, mellower and slightly commercial sound that proves that the group is living in the here and now without forgetting about its original inspirations.
Final rating: 73%« Holding the Mongolian folk rock banner high - A review of Nine Treasures' "Wisdom Eyes"Passable concert and solid bonus material for fans - A review of Primal Fear's "Angels of Mercy: Live in Germany" »
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