Hello again!

Today we’re going to talk about an album that has become a really pleasant discovery while being a great indicator of a drastic shift in Russian music. It’s understood that similar to any other genres in contemporary music, this particular band represents one of the rare cases of great quality of composition and performance of musical content. Nonetheless, this band has set a really high bar for contemporary core- and metal- music, which many other bands will need to follow, including not only Russian bands, but the foreign ones. In short, I’d definitely recommend this album for a listen because it’s really original and interesting despite the fact that it delivers rather generic lyrical messages.

This is Shrezzers – a metal band from Saint Petersburg, Russia. Despite the fact that I’m also writing many reviews in Russian for Russian-speaking audiences, I discovered this band by a random chance because of one of my subscribers suggesting this band for a listen. In particular, it was a cover version of XXXTENTACION’S SAD, which has left a really pleasant impression and to be honest, I liked it even more than the original version of the song. In that track I liked really great vocal performance along with decent progressive metalcore instrumentals + inclusion of saxophone parts, which I didn’t really expect because of the fact that almost nobody in metalcore uses saxophone on a regular basis. As far as I remember, saxophone is being generally used by genres close to folk- or ska- or something like that. Anyway, for metalcore it’s a real novelty.

In total, the whole debut album of the band leaves the same impression in terms of overall sound. It’s titled “Relationships” and its cover features a highly tolerant picture of a couple with some liquid flowing out of their faces. What is interesting here, this liquid’s colored alternatively to the skin color of both people. I believe, the overall meaning behind this image is that people have much more in common despite their most obvious differences; however, this is rarely being seen, that’s why it’s sometimes hard to build and maintain healthy relationships. Basically, this is the overall meaning of the cover art (for me personally, of course) and I’d like to note that it correlates directly with the album’s overall meaning, as well.

One of the linking points of the album is offered in its intro, which is really easy to define rather generic and primitive sometimes because the overall dialogue seems rather factitious and poorly written. Nonetheless, this dialogue between two guys about relationships serves as more than sufficient intro because it clearly explains what should we expect from this album in terms of both music and lyrics. The overall conceptual framework of the album lies on the fact that the majority of human relationships is rather not pleasant, good and mutually positive. In spite of this, we never hear any word of complaining, self-induced emotional suffering because of this and lyrics like “she left me, I cannot stand it, I love her but I hate her etc.”. And for this specifically I’d like to thank the band very much.

The album’s lyrics are also quite good and decently written despite the fact that the text lines do not reinvent the wheel in terms of explaining certain problems regarding human relationships and they do not offer something new in terms of explaining this phenomenon. Every track depicts a certain picture of rather unhealthy relationships, which are always complicated and uncertain despite the fact that people depicted in them seem to love each other. I also like the fact that the lyrics are not that direct and straightforward and don’t follow the pattern “I came, I saw, I won”. The only exception for this is track Knuckles, which directly explains the picture of a protagonist willing to fight for his future and to achieve something better while expressing emotional vulnerabilities and increasing need for emotional support from others. We can also see some inclusion of clearly defined and understandable symbols like it was in E.M.O.J.I.Q.U.E.E.N. in order to depict this specific atmosphere of being young and using certain slang associated with the Internet and social networks. In other words, if not overthink the lyrics, they are written really well, while not clearly attempting to get the “lyrics of the year” award.

But, as you can understand, the album’s lyrics is not its strongest side, for which you should consider the album as a great one. The overall songwriting and musical production of the album is of really high quality. I believe that this album was made in search of balance between the most melodic, most technical and heaviest sides of progressive metalcore music. And in total, this balance was perfectly achieved by the band. What do I mean by that? I mean that the guitar parts always balance between progressive and melodic metalcore, like it was said in the beginning of the review. If we’re to give a certain comparison to the album’s music, I’d compare it to a much simpler and much “pop” versions of Polyphia’s music from their last album.

That’s basically because of the fact that in almost all parts of the tracks without vocals, the guitars instantly start playing progressive solos and fast-paced arpeggios. If those were layered above the rhythmically complex grooves with 7th-8th string guitar parts, then the overall guitar parts of the album would be much closer to those of Born of Osiris or something similar. That specific fact that the band uses relatively high-pitched tunings for their guitars (somewhere close to dropC, dropDb or even dropD) decreases the overall heaviness of the riffs but contributes a lot to the overall melodic complexity of the album, which will be much appreciated by the listeners who got bored of the same old metalcore breakdowns and dissonances. Plus, we can feel a lot of inspirations from funk and jazz music, which you can not always hear directly but you can feel that specific rhythmic patterns or melodic structures that are quite more complex than traditional minor pentatonic scale so much loved by the majority of metalcore guitarists.

I’d also like to express deep respect and appreciation to the vocalist and the person who wrote vocal lines for him (dunno, maybe it was the vocalist himself, gotta assume every possible scenario). The voice of Sam – the band’s vocalist sounds clear enough to get distinguished from quite high guitar and saxophone instrumentals, while also sounding pleasantly and calmly, which is a rare case for contemporary bands. We all know certain examples of metal bands, where the vocalist tries to yell as high as he/she can in order to get noticed from the rest of the instruments, but it sounds quite doubtful (at best). For example, last album of The Korea (also Russian band, which is quite decent) is a great illustration of this. Instead, this album features calm, clear and confident vocal tone that sounds both clear and pleasantly. Plus, there wasn’t too much autotune on the vocals, which is also a rarity for core- bands, especially for Russian bands.

However, I’m quite uncertain about the screaming parts because I don’t feel that they were needed all the times they were included. Still, I understand that a drummer capable of playing and screaming is a feature that shouldn’t be neglected by any sort of band despite the fact that drummers that sing is also not a novelty for rock- and metal music. We all know examples of Mastodon, Autopsy or (god forbid) Genesis. So, in total, it’s a really decent scream but not really that original and different from any other metal screams. That’s why I do believe that without screaming parts, the album wouldn’t suffer whatsoever. But, it’s just my personal opinion.

All in all, it’s a really great album that will make you say “What, is this really a Russian band? Wow.” because this album sounds sometimes even better than its European and American counterparts. That’s why I’d rate it 4,5 out of 5 and I’d definitely recommend it for a listen because I don’t want you to miss it.

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