Here’s another first for me. And for the band for that matter, as they are a new band and this is their first release. The band I am talking about is the Russia based, self-proclaimed folk metal/hard rock band called Helena Aleksandre’s which consists of three women, composer/guitarist Helena Aleksandre, vocalist Vera Moore and classic guitarist/bassist Stasy Short. Quite a remarkable line-up considering the complete absence of a drummer. That does not mean there are no drums present at all, because there definitely are albeit in a submissive role, the physical seat simply remains vacant. For now at least. The ladies’ maiden release is an eight-song, 33-minute album called Angels Don’t Sleep which has many different faces. The aforementioned already rather extensive description of their musical genre doesn’t really cover it, it’s merely a summary of some of the most determinative influences in their music.
The first track of this genre-defying release is called I Killed My Fear, a seven minute introduction to Helena Aleksandre’s and their music. It’s a slow song with a somewhat desolate feel to it, not really surprising considering the title. Its backbone is a guitar riff that will probably ring the bells of recognition for many listeners as it resembles many riffs used by other bands. Not that that is a problem, not at all even, all it does is it gives the tunes a familiar feel. Besides, next to that riff there’s plenty more guitar work that is, to various extents, much more innovative, like the solo. Add to that the emotional, atmosphere-fitting vocals and it’s perfectly clear the girls have potential and the skills to convert that potential into even more skills. Next up is a song in Russian called Где же ты мой ангел (Where You My Angel) and although that too has some nice riffage it by now is clear the term metal is used pretty loosely, something that is confirmed by Tears of Rain, an acoustic instrumental piece. There’s a few shards of metal scattered over the songs to be found, like in Point of Collision and You Can Find A Way, but that is about it. The vast majority of the music is best described as symphonic (hard) rock build on great guitar work and beautiful vocal lines. In all honesty I don’t mind that one little bit as in my opinion the ladies are at their best when they play beautiful, emotional music with a rough edge.
There is no doubt the ladies have some serious potential both musically and vocally and the same can be said about the compositions themselves. However, having said all this there is also a room for some mild criticism, although one can argue about it being criticism at all. As I do realize only practice makes perfect and no band is perfect from the start, perhaps I’d better call it a recommendation. There’s a few moments in which I get the feeling the band is a bit undecided about the path they want to follow. In those moments they seem torn between heavy and sweet melodic, which then emphasizes the in-song contrast between the two a little too much to my liking. Also, along the same line, a little polishing here and there wouldn’t hurt. The switches and changes are a little abrupt at times and don’t always seem logical, like in album closer Ангелы не спят (Angels Don’t Sleep), distracting me from the in essence great tunes. Nevertheless I was pleasantly surprised by this release, it is most certainly a great listen. I will definitely keep my eyes out for these women, as they have the potential to grow into something awesome.