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Review: Aria - Christening by Fire
Christening by Fire

Label: Aria Records
Year released: 2003
Duration: 50:52
Tracks: 9
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: April 18, 2004
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Christening by Fire

Rated 3.8/5 (76%) (20 Votes)

Russia's Aria have been releasing albums for nearly 20 years now, but remain somewhat unknown in the Western world - part of this probably due to them singing in Russian. That's right. Lyrics and booklets are in Russian. I had originally planned to start reviewing the band's catalogue from the first album up, but as usual, I changed my mind. :) Their early albums showed a strong Maiden influence, but "Christening by Fire" is quite different, with a much more varied set of influences. "Christening by Fire" is what you get from mixing early 80s Ozzy riffs, some Maiden, some Metallica (say black album era) along with "modern" European power metal and a bit of "clean thrash" influences. That's quite a feat and the band pulls it off nicely, although it still needs some refining here and there. There are a couple of memorable songs, but many of them suffer from a common problem: Good to listen to, but you forget about them as soon as they're over. Their earlier stuff had better songwriting - here the music is good but the songs themselves lack a little something. Maybe they tried to do too much at once.

This is not actually bad... The music is quite interesting, sometimes original, sometimes a bit of a copycat (the beginning of "Fight" reminds me of "Enter Sandman", for instance.) There's a couple of songs with a bit of a Maiden epic feel to them (like the title track), a couple of thrashier numbers as well. In fact this album has a few songs that have much more aggressive riffs than in their past releases. Add some more melodic songs and what you get is a good dose of diversity. The album is far from boring, it's just too bad that it's not exactly memorable. Well, not everything can be, and at least the guys can play. You can still get off headbanging and air guitaring to most of the stuff on here. :)

This album is the first with ex-Autograph (the Russian rock band) vocalist Artur Berkut, who came in as replacement after long-time vocalist Valery Kipelov left the band. He does a good job overall, although at times he seems to be holding back, or simply not able to go as high as he'd like to. That said, his voice fits the music quite nicely and it seems that he's a good match for the band (to be confirmed if I ever hear him sing the older material...)

Not excellent, but a very good album. The language might be an issue to some people, but even then it's still worth a listen. As with many bands, the earlier stuff is better, but this album is definitely nothing to be ashamed of (especially considering the length of their career and the number of albums they've released.) One last note, as usual with Aria the booklet is minimal - but then again everything's written in Russian, so it's not like we're really getting short changed here. :) Recommended.

Additional Information

Includes bonus videoclip of "Coliseum" in MPEG format.

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