Album Review – Grenouer / Ambition 999 (2019)

Over 55 minutes of classy and modern rock music showcasing a different side of this talented Russian band, but still keeping their amazing core Alternative Rock and Metal intact.

Offering over 55 minutes of modern and melodic Alternative Metal with several distinct rock elements, Ambition 999, the ninth album in the career of Saint Petersburg, Russia-based act Grenouer, turned out to be a long-term project due to all the re-recording needed until the band reached its desired sound. That resulted into one of the biggest gaps between albums in their career, with nothing more, nothing less than four years separating Ambition 999 from their previous album, Unwanted Today, released in 2015. However, all that wait was definitely worth it as their new album is indeed a fresh addition to their discography, with each one of its 15 songs offering a different approach when compared to the band’s two previous efforts in terms of riff intensity and rapid-fire solos, balancing between new and clichés, double density and marked vocal temperament.

Engineered and recorded by Al Bolo at RDS& Moscow Gates Apartment Studios, Anssi Kippo at Astia-Studio, and Luigi Del Missier at BlackMirror Studios, produced, mixed and mastered by Giuseppe “Dualized” Bassi from dysFUNCTION Productions, and featuring a futuristic artwork by Brazilian artist Jobert Mello (Sledgehammer Graphix) and Italian artist Zimon (New Breed Graphic Studio), Ambition 999 feels like a heavier version of bands such as Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, presenting a more than inspired and electrified band comprised of Andrey Ind on lead vocals, Dmitry Rubanovsky and Alexander Motor on the guitars, Al Bolo on bass and Danny D on drums, and bringing to our avid ears everything we need to have a good time on the road, at a pub, at home, or anywhere else where good rock music is properly appreciated.

Electric waves permeate the air before the band begins blasting their modernized blend of Alternative Rock and Metal in Burnt to the Ground, with highlights to the slashing guitar riffs and solos by Dmitry and Alexander; followed by Nevermind Tomorrow, a song perfect for banging our heads to their riffs and beats while Andrey gives life to its party-like lyrics (“Fast and tight / High heel party night / Tomorrow never knows and never dies / Drinks on me / Any chicks for free? / We’re born to make some noise, so sing with me / Or you’d better shout”), and One Day, another thrilling tune in the same vein as bands like Godsmack, Shinedown and Three Days Grace, sounding very melodic and showcasing a passionate performance by Andrey on vocals while Danny D dictates the rhythm with his spot-on beats. Then in Infinite Grace the band adds a good amount of heaviness to their music, getting closer to the musicality by bands like Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson but still keeping their core Alternative Rock intact, also presenting some sick guitar solos for our total delectation, whereas in Medicine Treats No Lies the quintet continues their feast of modern-day rock and metal music, with Al together with Danny D bringing thunder to the music with their respective instruments.

If Cure for the Lonely is even more futuristic and atmospheric, displaying a strong focus on Andrey’s vocals and feeling at times like a hybrid of modern rock music with the electronic and alternative sounds by old school bands like Depeche Mode, Uncommon Faith is a good song for hitting the highway, presenting great sync between the band’s stringed trio and Danny D’s beats, all infused with Hard Rock elements. On the other hand, Back on Track is slightly below the rest of the album in terms of electricity, albeit it does bring forward a considerable amount of progressiveness as well as Andrey’s smooth but potent vocals; while Universe of My Heaven sounds very modern and progressive, also bringing some symphonic elements in the background to give it an extra taste. Moreover, Al’s bass sounds as groovy as it can be, while Danny D pounds his drums just the way we like it in good modern Rock N’ Roll. After that, it’s time for Grenouer to take their musicality to even more eccentric lands with the weird, atmospheric and fun Crimson Lines, with highlights to its classy, poetic lyrics (“Read between the crimson lines / Sacred destination / Go behind the scenes of life / Steady irritation / Read between the crimson lines / Go behind the sonic nightmares / Black and white visions in the sky”).

It’s interesting how Grenouer manage to keep their essence while exploring new sounds, which is the case in the almost electronic-dancing tune Chase the Sun, and although the final result is quite entertaining the guitars by both Dmitry and Alexander needed an extra kick for the whole song to work even better. Then melancholic, acoustic guitars ignite the introspective Ingenious Care, showcasing smooth vocal lines, complex and serene drums, and featuring guests Chayka Chursina on vocals and Zimon on bass, sounding dark from start to finish and, therefore, sending the desired message by the band. Dangerous Girls takes the band back to a heavier, more pounding sonority, with their guitar duo being on fire as well as Al and his rumbling bass, or in other words, this is a well-balanced hybrid of Progressive and Alternative Metal for admirers of the genre. The second to last blast of Grenouer’s rockin’ sounds comes in the form of Paranormal Star, sounding as whimsical and piercing as its name, placing it as another serious candidate to be part of their live setlists, whereas the last tune from Ambition 999 is a superb acoustic ballad entitled Alone in the Dark, which not only presents beautiful guitars and vocals, but its official video is amazingly obscure and captivating. Put differently, it might not be the usual electrified Grenouer we’re used to, but this somber, pensive side of the band is just as enfolding as their more regular sonority.

What are you waiting for to put your hands on 15 extremely well-crafted and energizing rock songs made in Russia? Simply go to the band’s official BandCamp page to grab your copy of the album, as well as to the Sleaszy Rider Records’ BandCamp or webstore, to iTunes or to Amazon, and keep an eye on their Facebook page, VKontakte and YouTube channel for news, tour dates and more of their crisp rock music. As an already established and successful band in the world of heavy music, we can rest assured Grenouer are far from calling it quits, hoping that all of their future releases are just as good as the music found in Ambition 999 and that they proudly keep carrying the flag of Rock N’ Roll wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Nevermind Tomorrow, Medicine Treats No Lies, Crimson Lines and Alone in the Dark.

Worst moments of the album: Back on Track and Chase the Sun.

Released in 2019 Sleaszy Rider Records

Track listing
1. Burnt to the Ground 3:30
2. Nevermind Tomorrow 3:32
3. One Day 4:15
4. Infinite Grace 4:07
5. Medicine Treats No Lies 3:25
6. Cure for the Lonely 2:37
7. Uncommon Faith 5:13
8. Back on Track 3:41
9. Universe of My Heaven 3:49
10. Crimson Lines 4:16
11. Chase the Sun 3:17
12. Ingenious Care 3:24
13. Dangerous Girls 4:08
14. Paranormal Star 3:10
15. Alone in the Dark 3:20

Band members
Andrey Ind – lead vocals
Dmitry Rubanovsky – guitars
Alexander Motor – guitars
Al Bolo – bass
Danny D – drums

Guest musicians
Chayka Chursina – female vocals on “Ingenious Care”
Zimon – bass on “Ingenious Care”

Album Review – Atonismen / Wise Wise Man EP (2016)

Enjoy a feast of dark, symphonic and dense metal music, crafted by a talented Russian multi-instrumentalist and his loyal and dynamic duo of guitarists.

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coverOriented in Dark Metal on one side and chamber music on another, Russian metallers Atonismen will surprise you with the density, professionalism and comprehensiveness of their music. Formed earlier this year by Russian singer and multi-instrumentalist Alexander Orso in the charming and historical city of Saint Petersburg, Atonismen fire a precise amalgamation of the darkest elements from Doom and Gothic Metal with choir-like sounds and an epic atmosphere surrounding everything in their debut EP, titled Wise Wise Man, offering the listener a unique experience in heavy music and a journey through the realms of Symphonic Metal.

The high level of professionalism in Wise Wise Man can be noticed not only through the amazing skills of Alexander and his crew, but also on the overall production of the album, very crisp and full of layers thanks to the top-notch job done by Russian musician Sergey “Lazar” Atrashkevich (Arkona), who produced, recorded, mixed and mastered the EP at CDM Records. And the band is already reaping the rewards of such dedication to their music, supporting renowned bands such as The 69 Eyes, Sonic Syndicate and Graveworm in Moscow, and joining the tour of well-known Russian folk band Izmoroz in their homeland. After taking a good listen at the eight distinct tracks of Wise Wise Man, you’ll see they more than deserve that recent but amazing success.

In the excellent Almagest, an atmospheric intro explodes intro bold Symphonic Metal with hints of Black and Pagan Metal added to  increase its epicness, with keyboards and drums leading this electric tune while Mr. Orso blasts his strong and powerful voice perfect for this type of music. Their Dark Metal vein gets stronger in the mesmerizing composition Sorry, where guitarists Alexander Senyushin and Child Catherine beautifully add the word “metal” to it through their potent and aggressive riffs. Furthermore, Mr. Orso is a wrecking machine on drums, delivering exactly what heavy and atmospheric metal music needs to be great. My Tale brings forward a beautiful dose of melancholy to the album, with Mr. Orso also thriving with his passionate clean vocals while a dark ambience embraces the listener in this lovable power ballad, not to mention the potency provided by the astounding guest choir Silver Voice.

atonismenThe title-track Wise Wise Man is a full-bodied Dark Metal song the likes of Moonspell with vicious guitar lines by the stunning Child Catherine and the competent Alexander Senyushin, again with keyboard notes bringing more mystery to the musicality; whereas Wiegenlied, the German word for “lullaby”, is a somber ballad full of traditional folk elements and an eerie rhythm that enfolds the listener before a sonic havoc named In Timeless Clamor comes crushing mercilessly. The metallic bass lines by Mr. Orso and the flammable riffs by the band’s guitar duo are amazingly heavy, sounding almost like sheer Black Metal at times, with vocals reminding me of the iconic Fernando Ribeiro thanks to their passion and violence. And I’m not sure if the last two songs can be considered bonus tracks or not, but we’re treated to two alternative versions for the title-track “Wise Wise Man”. The dark mix is very electronic and could easily be part of the soundtrack of a movie or played at a Halloween party, while the industrial mix is an upbeat and thrilling blend of heavy and electronic music, another perfect choice for providing a horror flick an extra touch of wickedness.

Enjoying and supporting the symphonic and extreme creations of Atonismen is quite easy, as all you have to do is visit their Facebook, VKontakte, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, as well as buy your copy of Wise Wise Man at their official BandCamp page. This feast of dense and symphonic Extreme Metal, beautifully engendered by Mr. Orso and his loyal guitar duo, was made to be relished and admired by all fans of the dark side of music, cementing a very promising start in their career in Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Sorry and Wise Wise Man.

Worst moments of the album: Wiegenlied.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Almagest 7:31
2. Sorry 7:21
3. My Tale 8:51
4. Wise Wise Man 5:29
5. Wiegenlied 3:50
6. In Timeless Clamor 5:13
7. Wise Wise Man (dark mix) 5:51
8. Wise Wise Man (industrial mix) 5:30

Band members
Alexander Orso – all instruments, vocals
Alexander Senyushin – guitars
Child Catherine – guitars

Album Review – Grenouer / Unwanted Today (2015)

If alternative heavy music is your cup of tea, the new album by this talented and experienced Russian band might be exactly what you are looking for.

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5.Unwanted_Today.Album_coverUnwanted Today is more than just the eighth studio album by Russian Alternative Metal/Rock band Grenouer. Blending elements of traditional Heavy Metal and Alternative Rock and always evolving in a very similar way to what can be found in the music by renowned bands such as Sevendust, Velvet Revolver and Linkin Park, among others, the entire album is a very interesting expedition through the realms of alternative music and, according to the band members themselves, can be considered “a soundtrack to an epic story of loss, struggle, and resurgence.”

In case you have no idea of what that actually means, I suggest you take a good listen at Unwanted Today in its entirety, and not just at one or two songs, otherwise you won’t be able to absorb the full message delivered by this talented four-piece group from Saint Petersburg, Russia. Not only that, the music in the album is nicely complemented by guest contributions from Eddy Cavazza (John Wetton, Anthony Phillips), Demian Von Dunkelwald (Overunit Machine), Enrico ‘Erk’ Scutti (Figure Of Six) and Dmitriy Yankovskiy (Helicaon Opera), adding extra layers of vibrancy to the overall result.

The futuristic intro Awake already presents to the listener the avant-garde side of the band, but it’s when the heavy riffs and keyboards from Alternative Metal from the title-track Unwanted Today kick in that you’ll get a much better taste of what Grenouer have to offer. In addition, lead singer Andrey Ind has a smooth and melancholic voice that matches perfectly with the band’s musicality. It’s a very good song for driving on an endless road, just like A Little Too Obsessed, which presents a stronger Hard Rock vibe the likes of Velvet Revolver thanks to the job done by guitarist Alexander Motor. In my opinion, this is what Linkin Park could have been doing if they hadn’t chosen the more “commercial” path of the music industry.

The following track, Something Really Bad, is another radio-ready tune where the band delivers a pleasant and very cohesive sonority with its Rock N’ Roll riffs enhanced by its Alternative Rock drums and vocals, while the slower and more introspective On A Rainy Day sounds tailored for a relaxing moment alone. Blossoms In The Dust, a semi-ballad where the low-tuned bass lines by Al Bolo keep it away from being commercial due to their strength, follows a similar pattern as the previous track, with highlights to Andrey and Alexander for being in total sync. And “closing” the first half of the album we have I Can’t Stand It, where Grenouer travel back to an Alternative Metal musicality, in special its heavier riffs and atmospheric passages with the vocals by Andrey being boosted by the background effects. Besides, its straightforward lyrics truly help the song become more enjoyable.

3.Grenouer.Photo.AIn Daily Miracles, which even has a headbanging feeling despite not being pure metal music, they combine elements from bands like Korn, Linkin Park and Sevendust, with Al Bolo once again kicks ass on bass, whereas Going To Stay is even heavier and therefore more inclined to Heavy Metal. It’s my favorite song of the entire album, with guest guitarist Eddy Cavazza enhancing its energy level and its chorus being extremely effective and catchy. Point Of No Return, another introspective song totally focused on its vocals lines, kind of disappoints a little not for being a bad song ( it delivers what it proposes), but for coming right after the most exciting tune of all. Maybe if it had been placed before “Going To Stay” it would have sounded a lot better, who knows, at least to my ears.

The electricity is back in Artificial Tears, a great display of Alternative Rock with a metallic energy flowing and the constant beats by Danny D leading the song, before Don’t Let Them (Get You Down) shows us all Grenouer know how to go from low and heavy music to gentler passages, displaying a high level of professionalism that proves why they’ve been in action since the 90’s. And to properly wrap up this alternative “soundtrack” they offer us the outro Clearway, which showcases an impeccable connection with how everything started in “Awake”.

You can get more information on Grenouer at their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and also get your copy of Unwanted Today at the Mausoleum Records webstore or at the band’s BandCamp page. If you’re a fan of well-crafted alternative heavy music, this entertaining album by this skillful band from Russia might be exactly what you’re looking for to add to your playlist.

Best moments of the album: Unwanted Today, A Little Too Obsessed and Going To Stay.

Worst moments of the album: Point Of No Return.

Released in 2015 Mausoleum Records

Track listing
1. Awake 1:01
2. Unwanted Today 3:17
3. A Little Too Obsessed 3:37
4. Something Really Bad 3:25
5. On A Rainy Day 2:46
6. Blossoms In The Dust 3:27
7. I Can’t Stand It 3:14
8. Daily Miracles 3:27
9. Going To Stay 2:57
10. Point Of No Return 3:25
11. Artificial Tears 3:10
12. Don’t Let Them (Get You Down) 3:44
13. Clearway 1:47

Band members
Andrey Ind – vocals
Alexander Motor – guitars
Al Bolo – bass
Danny D – drums 

Guest musicians
Eddy Cavazza – lead guitar on “Going To Stay” and keyboards on “Clearway”
Demian Von Dunkelwald – guest vocals
Enrico ‘Erk’ Scutti – guest vocals
Dmitriy Yankovskiy – guest vocals