In my last blog posts about music. I spoke about instrumental metal and my own band Chaos in Spring in detail. This time I review three bands that have shaped my taste in music. There will be three separate posts over the course of three days about the holy trinity. The posts are as follows: SHOKRAN review, Persefone review, and Dir en grey review – three bands that I just can not stop listening to.
SHOKRAN Review – Oriental Metal/Djent/Progressive Metal From Moscow
This band blew my socks off from the first moment I heard their album “Exodus”. For the longest time, it was my most listened-to album on Spotify.
I discovered them on yet another playlist on Spotify which name I can not seem to recall. However, the playlist was my go-to one on the everyday walk home from the work at a Gas Station… Well, like August Burns Red said: metal is angry music for happy people…
I believe the song was “Disfigured Hand” which is to this day one of my favourite songs. I remember having it on repeat for a few hours when I first heard it to just take everything in. Musically and lyrically I fell in love instantly. My only thought was – how haven’t I heard them before, where was I? Maybe under a rock somewhere…
The way the Middle-Eastern vibes/oriental melodies are incorporated into this album made me originally think that this must be an Arabic band. The way you can hear the Ancient Egyptian cultural influence made me so sure of myself that when I found out that they are from Russia, I was flabbergasted and my ego got a serious bump.
The name SHOKRAN (often written as shukran) means “Thank you” in Arabic. Therefore I was even more buying into my thought at first. I listen to a few Arabic artists regularly so SHOKRAN was to my liking right away.
The Band SHOKRAN
At first, there was a solo project by Dimitry Demyanenko who is a great guitarist and composer in my opinion. In 2012 he released his first EP “Sixth Sense”.
(2014) which I liked from the moment I heard the intro pulls you in right away. It is not the kind of album that can just play in the background without drawing attention to itself.
You can hear a variety of Middle-Eastern stringed instruments which together with the guitars and keyboards/electronic samples thrown in set a really cool vibe. The album in general throws in some metalcore alike tones vocally but is quite complex in technicality. Perhaps, you can also find the speck of love in me for deathcore in this album.
It makes me dance along in my chair like an idiot, and wiggle my butt like an overly excited dog.
(2016) speaks about the 10 plagues of Egypt in the book of Exodus. It is the second book of the Bible that circles around the Israelites leaving slavery in Biblical Egypt. The lyrics for this album are written by Victor Brazhnikov. It continues to use synths and Middle-Eastern Vibes as you can already imagine.
I think that the way it incorporates different styles together into a work of art makes it an outstanding album in the Progressive Metal scene. I think it flows seamlessly as a whole, is very well put together, and their new vocalist Andrey Ivashenko does justice to it.
The amount of time I have been listening to this masterpiece through the years and not getting tired of it should tell how much love I have for it. I just can not get enough, I need my fix of the serotonin it brings me.
(2019) was just as good. I still have chills all over my tiny body when I listen to this. The theme of this album is self-searching – something I have been dealing with my whole life.
This singer is just amazing, the way his voice can console in the beautiful clean-sung poppy melodies carried out with such elegance that you can not just play the album, you have to listen to it. The harsh vocals on the album and the transition between the two distinct ways of singing are seamless.
The instrumentals/compositions make me smile uncontrollably, the endless runs on the keyboards and the guitars, and the banging riffs are astonishing. The use of Middle-Eastern scales is there but the vibe is not as prominent as on the last two albums unless you really get into the listening.
As always, the lyrical and instrumental storytelling is sublime and this album is flawless.
The cool thing about the band is that even if record labels have approached them, they are completely independent.
SHOKRAN also has instrumental versions of their albums, so if you are not into the screamy-screamy vocals, try those *wink-wink*.
How the hell will I pick them – Songs to try out
Seriously, this is not an easy feat because every single song of them just screams “pick me” at me but for the sake of the length of this post I will choose a few. If you like them – please listen to the albums as a whole from start to finish – they really do tell a story and form a whole.
Creatures From the Mud
I think this song from “Exodus” is a great start. It has all the elements that I just talked about (others too) but it conveys the whole reason why I fell in love with the band so fast well. The melodies, the groove, the harsh vocals, and the “poppy” clean vocals that I love in this kind of music.
There are also “Living Arrows”, “Disfigured Hand” and “Firstborn” – it was very hard to choose between these songs as I just love them all equally. Please take a listen.
“Creatures From the Mud” has a video too, please watch it if you have time.
Nature of Paradox
As someone that pleaded with all the Gods whose names I knew in the past to help me and battled with the dim nature of my own thoughts (mental illness, anxiety, and bullying problems, not knowing why or who I was) I connected with the lyrics of this song right away.
Just like with the “Golden Pendant”, “Destiny Crucified” and “Faces Behind the Stars” from this album, please check them out too – I couldn’t choose between these songs.
My whole life I have viewed myself and the nature of life/my whole being as a contradiction and a paradox. This song and the whole album make me feel good. It makes me feel like a warrior and that there is beauty in this life, beauty like music and their music is… beautiful.
The song is well polished just like the whole album, once again. This song also has a video that I recommend watching. It is a live show, so you can see the band in action. “Living Arrows” from “Exodus” also has a really great live video that I recommend watching.
If you want to know more about the band,
There are “Exodus” and “Ethereal” studio updates on YouTube. I personally enjoy such videos as they talk about the band and you can see how the songs are created and how much effort it takes – please look, music production is cool. Even for those who don’t usually listen to metal, I think that it could be an interesting watch.