We’ve been following this Germany-based collective for quite some time now, and their brand new release — an EP titled “Russian Tales” — was conceived during the group’s tour across Russia in Winter 2016. It may be because of it that the five songs here feel a bit cold in its nature, but hey — you spend 12000km experiencing winter in Siberia, and then let’s talk. All digression aside, Art Against Agony have once again produced a mind-twisting release, something they are already known in the experimental, avant-garde and prog metal underground.
The group’s can-do attitude of mixing odd experimentation techniques into a metal state has earned them success since their 2014 debut “Three Short Stories.” The particular experiment AAA undertake is the fusion of contrasting genres, principally the extreme side of metal and fancy jazz.
For “Russian Tales” it could be said that it’s a transitional release, as it was conceived between the release of “The Difference Between a Duck and a Lobster” in February 2016 and “The Forgotten Story” EP from February this year. The production here is perfect. “Nothing to Declare” and “Tea for the Dragon” both have infectious grooves that are more riff focused rather than uncontrollable experimentation. The latter could be considered as a centrepiece of the EP. “Coffee for the Queen,” for which the band recently released a music video is another highlight here; it’s more prog metal oriented than other pieces. Throughout the album the guitars constantly build up, what gives the band, in general, both vintage and modern sound that increases the uniqueness of their soundscapes.
The closing “Saratov Incident” feels personal, and it’s by far the djentiest moment on “Russian Tales.” The band unleashes a cannonade of riffs, accompanied with lush atmospheric motif and pounding drum work.
Although a release that was written while on road and in constant motion, “Russian Tales” is very consistent in terms of its structure and material offered here. You can possibly sense how it took its form out in the wild wilderness, and for this young band it certainly stands as a huge statement. At the time when this review is posted Art Against Agony are on another tour across Russia, so who knows, maybe they will come up with “Russian Tales 2.” Highly recommended!