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Rada & Ternovnik (the Blackthorn) - Russian Epos CD (album) cover


Rada & Ternovnik (the Blackthorn)


Prog Folk

3.05 | 2 ratings

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3 stars In 1999 Rada & Ternovnik seemed to still be working out what sort of group they wanted to be when they grew up, even as they were recorded their fourth full-length studio album and after nearly seven years together as a band. Following the darkwave album 'My Love, My Sorrow' the group put together this collection of what are basically pretty straightforward rockers, dark but conventional other than for Rada's seductively somber and often intense vocals.

Musically I can't hear much to distinguish these songs from a lot of contemporary radio tunes pushed out in the latter eighties and early nineties. It's not Wham! or Prince to be sure, but the pedestrian rhythm section of drums and bass, along with more subdued guitar work than the band had displayed on their first two releases combine for an altogether common record that is truly dominated only by the vocals.

Some of these appear to be studio tracks, although for the most part this is a live album, seemingly performed to a rather small and quietly polite audience. Strange that most of the songs seem to be original, new material, yet none of them appeared on any earlier studio albums so perhaps the group is simply using a live setting in lieu of paying for studio time. Not really sure.

"Simple Quiet Songs" would go on to appear on several future live and compilation recordings, and "Cold Time" and "None in Paradise" would appear on the group's 2000 studio release as would the vocally chilling avant-garde composition "You Will Dance" and the operatic "Potholes", a nearly ten minute dirge of ranting guitar, gut-checking bass and impossible vocal range. Of all the songs here "Potholes" is by far the most memorable, though "You Will Dance" offers the first solid evidence that behind all the posing, angst and vocal gymnastics this is a genuine Russian folk-rock band at heart. In fact that song is the one that convinced me.

I wish I knew more about the relationship of this album to the studio release 'Cold Seasons' that would follow it. That one is similar but for the most part avoids the overindulgent foray into common rock that this one veers right into at the opening bell. I wonder if they were touring and recording this one while preparing to enter the studio for 'Cold Seasons'. If so the time on the road definitely helped them work the bugs out of the material that ended up on the studio release.

This is a challenging album due to the large number of unambitious tracks that tend to lull the listener into assigning an impression of mediocrity to the record. But patience is always a virtue, no more so than for those who hang around for the last thirteen minutes or so of this offering and are rewarded with the best the band has had to offer up to this point. A solid three stars on the weight of the last third of the album. Would have been four had the rest of the songs lived up to those two.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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