Sonic Cathedral

Fright Night "Life Eternal"

9/10

Fright Night is Russian Gothic, a sound you don’t always get in Russia although they do tend to take their witchcraft seriously. But, this is a somewhat different interpretation of the Gothic musical style, although there are certainly various interpretations of that musical direction. With Fright Night you get much of what most of us would associate with the genre; metal, keyboard based material, both male and female vocals and a truly dark lyrical message. But, there are subtile differences. Especially with the vocals. Jefe here is Marianna Lukianova who does guitar work and the lead vocals. She’s not the typical classical soprano although she sure comes close on occasion. The male vocals are provided by Alexey Ovsiynko who does a different style than what we usually hear from male vocalists in this part of the business. It’s not a growl but it’s damn sure not a classical tenor. Between the two they provide one of the more dramatic and downright dark sounds you’re going to hear. All of this over what could be described as a somewhat typical Gothic background, one a bit heavy on the funeral interpretation of that particular style. I asked Marianna for her thoughts on the term. “As for the term ‘Gothic' - I'd say it's the ability to calmly face the darker sides of life and of your own personality, to find some aesthetic appeal in them. We call our music Gothic because this style addresses emotions and feelings of a man like no other. Well yeah - these are rather dark emotions at times. But light is always preceded by darkness.”

As would be expected, the band rarely appears at boy band events or rap extravaganzas. They tend to work the dark side, events where anything but a black wardrobe would probably have you excommunicated by the forces of the dark queen at the very least, with total damnation not entirely out of the question. The prefer events like the international Gothic festivals; “Children of the Night: The Black Rada V” in Kiev (Ukraine) or ‘Radio Inferno VII” in St. Petersburg (Russia). They perform with various bands who share their interest; To Die For, Das Ich, Theatres Des Vampires, The Last Days of Jesus. Unlikely you’ll have to subject yourself to the Beiber at one of those events. Even Snoop Dog would be way too far outside his element to attend.

Well, for me it just ain’t Goth if it doesn’t take a dark road with the lyrics. I don’t care how good the music is, if you start singing, “I sure love ya, honey” you’ve left the reservation and we have little to discuss. Fright Night stays on the reservation, they may own it. The lyrics may be a little hard to understand, these are Russians singing in English. But, that may actually increase their level of interest. Do you really want to hear Elizabeth Taylor doing a vampire movie, you gotta have that Eastern European accent to get the full flavor. And Lukianova has it down cold. This is like a voice from the grave, a lovely voice, but clearly not one designed for light musical comedy. And their music videos tend to follow this theme. Infernity gives us some idea what it’s all about, and you get the idea quickly that it’s all about the black. But, it’s also all about a pretty good performing band, Lukianova is more than a little entertaining and fun to watch. But the message is the media, as someone once suggested, or should have:

A shadow mutters through the chilling air / Unearthly words of most complete despair
And desecration. . . .

It comes for me, for me alone / Sanity flees before it
And from this being all the horror springs / And stars will shun off from this thing
And turn their glances from it
The Ancient One. It’s reign the faithful sing

A second video, Ice, from this release is equally entertaining. Lots of nice keyboard material to begin with. Then what sounds a bit like strings, probably electronic. This one is actually a little more upbeat that much of what we get with the release. Not the lyrics, of course, but the music is almost danceable, assuming your taste in dancing runs to the Dance of the Dead. But, again, the band puts on an entertaining performance, they’re a visual bunch.

Maybe the two songs I found most interesting on the release were Cinema Star and Numb. I asked Marianna for her thoughts on those two and got a much deeper response than I had anticipated. “Both these songs - Cinema Star and Numb - stand apart from the rest due to their ‘male' character and philosophic content whereas the rest of the stuff on the album is done in a more lyrical, soft and sad way. Cinema Star is my personal favorite. I still listen to it from time to time. I like the music itself - so solemn and powerful - and the way Alexey's performance brings the exact mood I wanted to express. I was born in Spring and despite my depressive music I am still optimistic and I see life positively as a whole. But the ‘Autumn' kind of people are different - especially those born in October and November. And Alexey is just that man. I was always drawn to these people and wanted to understand them. We have a thing in common with him - a liking for solitude.

I was once taking a stroll through the park not far from my home. It was October - everything wet and dirty and mud everywhere and then the snow started to fall. There were no people around and I suddenly felt like I'm alone in this whole park, in this whole city and on this whole planet. As if it's an endless desolate world devoid of love and warmth. I've known this feeling before and it still comes at times no matter how many ‘friends’ or other close relations I have.

In truth each and every man is absolutely alone. But many are just afraid of accepting it, afraid of looking into the eyes of the void. It is hard to live with that. And when it gets even harder than usual I pretend that all this is a movie and I am one of the characters. The trees, the snow - filmed perfectly by someone's hand. It's not me who suffers but my character. That's why the song is called the Cinema Star. I like the way Igor Burlakov did the artwork for the composition. Everything the right way - a desolate landscape and Alexey in that old-fashioned movie-style hat.

As for the track ‘Numb’ it speaks of a man who's lonely amid the crowd. Of the fact that nobody cares for your troubles and it's useless trying to persuade anybody, useless to try to amend them, to prove to them. It's better to just withdraw into yourself. It's about the last cry from the heart followed by an implosion after which there will never be anything to say.”

Nicely put.

And that may be as fine a way to describe the music of Life Eternal as I can imagine. Those thoughts flow through most songs, beautifully rendered but with a poignant message. Cherry Blossom certainly conforms to this norm. The sound is remorseful, both vocalists contribute, individually and together. Lyrically, we hear:

Then the time will come and I will bloom
And cherry blossoms will grow through my crystal tomb
To praise the day. / I’ll sing my song and grant my boons
And you will see and hear my true image and my tune
And know my way

The band has received recognition for this work from a number of sources. And, it’s well deserved. If you cherish the Gothic, especially a dark, almost doom oriented version of it, you can’t do much better than this.

 

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