To be honest I never heard of Deva Obida before, so it was quite the surprise when I learned this Murmansk, North-West Russia based band has been around since 1998. Starting out as a traditional melodic doom/death metal band they allowed themselves to be blown along several different stylistic trends leading them to their current, both rock- and folk-influenced style of playing, which also reflects in the Russian sang lyrical concepts that cover the north, traditions and the inner and outer world. Their current line-up consists of Pavel Cherkasov as vocalist, Artem Bachturin on guitar and keys and as vocalist, Aleksandr Burkov on guitar, gusli, balalaika, percussion and as vocalist and programmer, Evgeniy Gaptrafikov on bass and Ilya Dyuzhin on drums and as percussionist. With Deva Obida being a mythological Slavic Goddess also known as the Black Swan Maiden of whom it is said to be the harbinger of disaster and the personification of sadness, I’m curious to find out what the combination of their name and their current musical preference sounds like. It’s time to get acquainted with Deva Obida via their latest work, which is only their second full-length and sixth overall release. It’s time for Rudiment.
The honors of opening this release fall to Plemya, which is tribe in Russian, immediately linking to their lyrical concept thanks to its folky intro. It only takes half a minute to realize Deva Obida has strayed pretty far from their original musical path of death and doom metal here, because their music is neither slow and oppressive like doom nor raw and aggressive like death metal, even though there’s still a few very distant, subtle indications of those roots to be found. In fact, Plemya could almost be considered the opposite, it’s a rather uplifting heavy metal, or rather hard rock song with a pleasant vibe and a distinct folky undertone with the use of the bagpipes as the most obvious, but not sole culprit. The vocals are clean with a raw edge here and there, adding a bit more bite to the song, vaguely underlining the aforementioned distant link to death metal. A great and promising start if you ask me. Successor Pulse pretty much has the same uplifting atmosphere, but missing the folk influence and being more set up towards hard rock rather than towards metal makes this a completely different type of song. Litsa (faces in English) is a similar song, even though the air raid siren opening the song might lead you to believe something heavy is coming your way.
By now it’s pretty clear the band’s roots not only have almost disappeared from their music, but they’re not going to come back on this release either. Nowadays Deva Obida plays melodic hard rock with a hint of metal here and there and that is what you get and in all honesty, that is what they are good at. Whether it’s Pereval, Zov or Zmey, each of the songs has the same nice, somewhat bright vibe to it, making this an easily accessible and effortlessly audible release. The downside of this is that some of the songs tend to pass without truly grabbing your full attention. The addition of flute, bagpipes, balalaika and more rather unusual instruments does add the necessary variation to keep things interesting, while the subtle yet distinct changes in the base rhythm both within the individual songs as throughout the entire release prevent the songs from sounding too much alike. The only exception is album closer Deva Zarya (Goddess of fire), which is a lightly set, instrumental, soothing, atmospheric piece of music complete with a crying eagle, designed to set your mind at ease and relax.
To be honest I personally prefer a bit more spice, but that doesn’t make this release unworthy of my time, or yours for that matter. If you like your music lightly set with a few rough edges here and there, there really is no reason not to give this a try. As long as you don’t expect raging guitars and a frantic rhythm section, but a rather peaceful forty-five minutes you can’t go wrong with Rudiment.