Electroshock Records: Review:  
Orgia Pravednikov: “For Those Who See Dreams. Vol. I” (Electroshock Records 2010, ELCD 062)

10 tracks. Total time - 46:14.

This album is something of a shift, a radical one at that, for “Electroshock Records” - renowned for their experimental and avant-garde electronic music, this is a full-blooded rock album. In fact, For Those Who See Dreams” is a prog-rock-metal album with a big, big sound. “Orgia Pravednikov” reminds me a little of the Slovenian band “Laibach”, perhaps not so electronic but with a huge, punchy sound, basso-profundo vocals, metal guitars, brass section and a lot more. The band consists of five members but there is an army of guest musicians and vocalists spread across the ten tracks. The vocals are sung in Russian but the inlay booklet provides a translation and I think the album is themed around a concept of “Teutonic Knights” searching for a route to the northern land of Hyperborea. Then again I may be wrong and it could be about pushing through the barriers of accepted conformity. Whatever, this is one hell of a great album, probably the best rock album I have heard in a long time - there are great tunes with melodic hooks, big guitar sound - I really loved the epic Catcher in the Rye”. There are also softer songs, with delicate flutes - check out White on White” to hear what I mean.
               The band are: Sergey Kalugin - vocals, guitar; Alex Burkov - guitars, mandolin, keyboards, percussion, vocals; Yuriy Ruslanov - flutes, guitar, percussion, vocals; Artemiy Bondarenko - bass, keyboards, guitar, percussion, vocals; Alexander Vetkhov - drums. As you can see there are a lot of multi-instrumentalists there, and that flexibility helps to build up each track into these giant slabs of sound. This is a powerful album, I could see “Orgia Pravednikov” taking on “Metallica” and beating them hands down. “For Those Who Can See Dreams” is probably the best rock album to ever come out of Russia and it needs to be heard in the west - this should be on the playlist for Q Radio, Planet Rock and even BBC6. It needs maximum publicity and radio play to find the rock fans who will love it. Highly recommended!!!

John M. Peters (“The Borderland”)

Truth be told, I almost entirely overlooked this album as it was packaged with another I received from “Electroshock Records” that I already reviewed a short while ago. When I popped this into the CD player, I couldn’t believe my ears! WTF was this??? Surely this band couldn’t be on the “Electroshock” roster. Everything I’ve ever heard on this label has either been avant-garde, ambient hybrid or cutting-edge electronic music. So, what is a progressive art rock cum metal band doing on the “Electroshock Records” label? Frankly, I don’t know. Maybe “Orgia Pravednikov” (“Orgy of the Righteous”) is very big in Russia and “Electroshock” needs a major rock act to bolster sales. However, this band isn’t just your typical prog-metal band. “Orgia Pravednikov” are the most bizarrely pretentious band in the world that I know of, and that’s why I’m even taking the time and space to give them a review, because this music is just too, too, weird to ignore.
               My reaction on first listening to “For Those Who See Dreams” ranged from puzzlement to jaw-dropping incredulity as this outlandish odyssey unfolded. I have to admit that although I’ve heard the many influences of what’s going on here before, I’ve never heard anything that even remotely resembles “Orgia Pravednikov’s” “For Those Who See Dreams”. To begin with, the entire album is sung entirely in Russian by Sergey Kalugin, who I assume is the leader of this outfit. I suppose that would be normal for a Russian rock band whose market must be primarily Russian, but Sergey’s baritone vocals are so overtly ostentatious and melodramatic that “Rammstein” and “Laibach” combined would be hard pressed to compete with them in their sheer audacity. Yet, unlike the consistently dark and heavy music of those two bands, “Orgia Pravednikov” employs a progressive rock style that harkens back to “Jethro Tull”, “Queen”, “Marillion”, “Styx”, and bands of that ilk, with florid arrangements that often include baroque brass sections, flutes, strings, acoustic guitars, etc.
               In order to really understand what’s going on here, some context is in order. Generally speaking, in contrast to Western rock, Russian rock often is characterized by different rhythms, instruments and more involved lyrics. Considering its poetic roots of Russian literature and bard music, it is not surprising that lyrics play a far larger role in Russian rock than Western rock, and there is a pervasive Russian classical music influence as well. If you’ve ever heard Russian bands artists such as “Aria”, “Aquarium”, “Splean”, Pyotor Nalitch, “Alisa”, Kipelov, etc. you know there is an element of overwrought romanticism and touch of sadness to the music. If you consider how long these people have been oppressed and downtrodden throughout history, it makes sense. “Orgia Pravednikov” takes their Russian heritage very seriously. Many songs come off sounding like fiercely patriotic anthems, while others sound like modified drinking songs and folk dances. In fact, on their MySpace site, they even have a track titled “Our Motherland is USSR!” (Not on this album.)
               I will give the band credit for their musicianship, which is impressive to say the least. I will even give them credit for preserving their (Russian) music heritage. However, there is no doubt that the bulk of the material on “For Those Who See Dreams” comes across as cringingly pretentious, at least to these Western ears. One possible exception is track 9 (“Skimen’”) based on the “Song of Solomon” from the Bible. The sorrowful solo cello opening is quite a contrast to what follows. Band member Artemiy Bondarenko (bass, keyboard, guitar, etc.) contributes deep demonic lead vocals over a nearly Black Metal musical backdrop, while the cello weaves melodically throughout. It is all very proggy and frenetically paced, and even Sergey’s rapid recitation that begins mid-tune seems appropriate. Unfortunately, this atypical track is the only one on the album along these lines.
               Maybe, just maybe if you have deep Russian roots, this album could grow on you. I’m still not exactly sure what the album concept is about, even after reading the translated lyrics a couple of times. It seems a bit like a personal quest - “truth, love beauty” - that sort of thing. Don’t let my low rating put you off from checking them out though. You just might find this music so odd, that you’ll be compelled to share it with your friends. A fifth of vodka might not hurt either.

Steve Mecca (“Chain D.L.K.”)

Now this is really different for the “Electroshock Records” label. “Orgia Pravednikov” (which translates to “Orgy of the Righteous”) is a guitar/bass/keyboards/drums/flute Russian quintet who play accessible song oriented progressive rock with a metallic edge. The music has a decidedly romantic quality and at their most potent the band mix anthem rock infused “prog” with chunky metal guitar. The band has been together since 1999, have several albums to their credit, and according to their web site play frequent concerts.
The album is a high energy “tour de force” of ten songs. Among the highlights is “Hymn”, which blends orchestral “prog” with flute, (keyboard produced) trumpet and blazing metal guitar. “Doctrine of Wisdom” is a roller coaster ride of whimsical rhythmic twists and turns. “The Catcher in the Rye” is a mixture of anthem rock and Spanish conquistador themes. “Across Thin Ice” is one of my favorite songs, with its powerhouse guitar and rhythm section, gorgeous strings and keyboards, and heart wrenching delivery. The penultimate song, which is only titled in Russian, took me by surprise because it has those growling unintelligible vocals you hear on so much modern metal, but the music sounds kind of like early “Kansas”. A strange but very cool combo.
Though this isn’t the kind of music I typically listen to I have to credit these guys with top notch musicianship and complex compositions that they manage to delivery in a manner that is accessible to all. I’ll bet they’re a hot live act.

Spaceman33 (“Aural Innovations”)

“Orgia Pravednikov” is a Russian band whose style could be defined as “progressive rock” with some transgressor touches and reminiscences of “folk”, combined with some sides of “pop” and doses of romanticism. In “For Those Who See Dreams Vol. I”, the band show their good work and contribute a different vision of the merging of genres, also breaking some moulds.

Derek Doarn (“Amazing Sounds”)

The project “Orgia Pravednikov” (“Orgy of the Righteous”) was formed in 1999 by uniting the creative potentials of art-rock band “ARTEL” and rock-bard Sergey Kalugin. The peculiar sound of the band arises from the original combination of acoustic (flute and acoustic guitar) and electric (drums, electric guitar and bass guitar) sessions. From the moment of their origin the band has declared their purpose as forming the new style, in which the most valuable and the most interesting achievements of the native musical tradition would be combined with the tradition of world rock music. A broad and free CD reminding us of traditional Russian romance.

(“DWM” Music Company)



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