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From Behind The Iron Curtain

Posted by THE DUKE on January 7, 2011 at 2:43 PM

Aria- Hero Of Asphalt

1987 Melodiya Records

CD Release: 1998 Moroz Records


It’s actually a pleasure to write a review about probably the most legendary Russian band to ever exist. Aria has existed since the early 80s. They’ve most honestly earned their legendary status by gigging in the former Soviet Union during a time when metal music was not looked upon favorably by the Soviet regime. Therefore, Aria, early in its history, emerged as an underground phenomenon. Aria has since risen to superstar status within their homeland, releasing in excess of 15 studio, live, and compilation albums. The first two albums were N.W.O.B.H.M influenced hard rockers. Their 1987 album “Hero of Asphalt” gave them the nickname, “The Russian Iron Maiden.” “Hero Of Asphalt” is what is currently under review.

Aria is not that well known in the United States even in traditional metal circles. It's difficult to even recognize them under the name Aria, because Aria is the English translation of the Russian spelling of the band's name. Their spelling appears in their logo as an A, what looks like a P, a backword N, followed by an R. Another reason that they are not that well known is that the band chooses to sing the lyrics to all of its albums in their native tongue. Finally, their classic albums were not well distributed in the West. “Hero Of Asphalt” is considered to be one, if not the best album created by the band. The album title is in Russian and variously translates to “Hero of Asphalt” or “Hero of the Speedway.” It was the first Aria album to be released by Melodiya Records, which was the Soviet, state-owned monopoly label. It still stands as an incredible example of Iron Maiden influenced metal. The singer Valery Kipelov has incredible range, and his singing almost sounds majestic mostly due to the fact that he is singing in Russian. I don’t know, there is just something about the Russian language that portrays a regal elegance. The music, however, is traditional Iron Maiden circa “Number of the Beast,” “Piece of Mind,” or “Powerslave.” The album most directly mirrors Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave.” Aria even includes a long epic translated “Ballad of the Ancient Russian Warrior,” which obviously parallels Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” The music has galloping bass lines, and a twin guitar attack that uses the lead harmonizing guitar stylings of Murray and Smith as reference points. These guitars, however, come courtesy of Aria’s Vladimir Holstinin and Sergey Mavrin. The guitar parts are quite impressive especially in the song “Hero Of Asphalt,” and the aforementioned “Ballad of the Ancient Russian Warrior.”

I personally own all of Aria’s studio albums and a few live offerings, and they are all musically consistent. Aria always delivers a quality product in the release of their CDs and DVDs. The band can be found everywhere on you-tube, and even Udo Dirkschneider of UDO and formerly of Accept has a video performance with Aria as an extra on his UDO DVD “Nailed To Metal.” The band is revered in Eastern Europe, and has especially achieved legendary status within their homeland. However, to this day, they remain relatively unknown to Western metal fans, which is a shame. Hopefully, reviews like this can make steps toward changing all that.

Categories: The Duke's Classic Metal Journal