Release DetailsLABEL Metalism Records
RELEASED ON 9/30/2005
Living On The Edge
posted on 12/2006 By:
Almost entirely sung in Russian, Living on the Edge is quite an experience for an American metalhead with little experience in hearing heavy/power metal in anything but English. I mention this not because I am a bigot, but because it is a noticeable element in this, Santa Maria’s second full-length effort. Power metal, at least in my own experience, relies heavily on vocal melodies, and if you’re not familiar with the language, much of the meaning behind the melody will be lost to you.
Now that the language issue has been taken care of, we can move on to the music itself, which, at times, can actually kick at least one smooth cheek of an ass. There are a few moments that are a little too experimental for my tastes, such as the long mid-section in “Glory to the Madmen”, where the band “jams” far too long, but for the most part, this is solid, if not completely standard heavy metal. Besides the fact that they are one of the few bands with enough balls to stick to their native tongue in an increasingly international market that unnecessarily favors English language releases, there’s nothing particularly endearing about Santa Maria. Sure, they do go all jazz on us every once in a while and the synth is even phonier than most power bands, but nothing sticks convincingly enough to warrant any unique tags.
One positive note: Guitarist Cyrill Bezrodnykh unleashes a handful of tasty riffs throughout that keep things interesting. You’ll be ready to doze off in the predictable chorus when Bezrodnykh whips something out as if he was waiting all night to get that out there, like an afterthought. “Here ya go, buddy.” A teaser. Well, it works on occasion. Without his playful guitar work, a song like “Waves” would fall flat quickly. Sergey Sergeev doesn’t possess an arresting enough voice to carry the affair through his singing alone, and keyboardist Ruslan Smirnov will wear on your nerves, but Mr. Bezrodnykh certainly has a few tricks up his frostbitten sleeve. His tone is near perfect, and the clean licks are especially ass kicking. Two thumbs up, sir. He even reminds me a bit of early Iced Earth Jon Schaffer (think S/T and Night of the Stormrider).
There is little bite to Santa Maria’s sound. It often feels like they are either feeling their way around their own music or they don’t have it in them to bring it any harder. This isn’t hyper speed Dragonforce or uber-catchy Edguy. They couldn’t keep pace with the former. As for the latter, vocalist Sergeev is no Tobias Sammet, as much as he might try. The synth adds a particularly strange touch to “A Ballad of a Night and a Princess”, but as far as shining examples go, that one burns pretty dim if you ask me. These guys have talent. The execution is lacking. If they kick the pace up a smidge, light a fire under Sergeev’s ass, and maintain the more theatrical elements courtesy of Mr. Smirnov, I think they should be good to go. For now, they remain another heavy/power band capable of so much more.
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