Alkonost (Алконост) - Songs of The White Lilly (Песни белой лилии)
Released 5th October 2016
Reviewed 3rd December 2016 by Korpi
Back in October Alkonost, one of the most established and respected Slavic pagan/folk metal bands, released their seventh studio album Songs of The White Lilly (Песни белой лилии). Personally I've found most of Alkonost's previous works to suffer from the same tremendous mediocrity that some folk bands like Korpiklaani suffer from; however, if their works between 2004 and 2006 were their first maturing period, then Songs of The White Lily is their second.
The most notable thing in this latest album is the incorporation of the sound from their 2014 single Mermaid (Русалка); a very synthetic sounding keyboard with excellent female lead vocals by Ksenia Pobuzhanskaya. I regard the Mermaid single/EP as the greatest thing the band has accomplished since their awesome Shadows Of Glory demo in 1997, so its incorporation as the third track on the album and pervasive impact throughout is exhilarating for me.
While the style has matured so has the vocals and melodies. Much of what made Alkonost dull to me was the uninteresting, forgettable, and/or unvaried melodies. Good Slavic pagan/folk metal has a bouncy factor to it, a jumping between harsh-agressive and upbeat-exciting melodies, contrasting male and female vocals, and/or clashing folk and modern instruments. Much of their past work has been very bland and their lead vocalist Alena Pelevina largely unimpressive (albeit important). In Songs of The White Lily we finally see more varied and memorable elements.
Apparently as the music has matured so has Ksenia Pobuzhanskaya's vocals. Being with the band since 2012, her addition has been one of the most hopeful changes in the lineup since conception. She was the voice behind the Mermaid single/EP, but between then and now her true potential has been mostly held dormant. In this album she seems to invoke her potential and present truly enjoyable and diverse vocals. Overall the Alena Pelevina/second incarnation of Alkonost has finally moved over for the third incarnation of Alkonost that we were teased with back in 2014.
Songs of The White Lily truly gives me hope for Alkonost's future. They have finally caught up with the changes in a sub-genre that they have been a key band in promoting internationally. This album is definitely worth a buy if you appreciate the sub-genre, and keep your eyes open because their future is promising.
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