You can find plenty of reasons to listen to Russian metalcore. The artists never read the memo about sugar-coating their choruses with piss-weak emo melodies; they don’t base their songs around breakdowns; and the band members care nothing for clean haircuts or social media followers. And when these guys roar down a microphone, they do it like their lives depend on it.
Though Verge of Lunacy steal their name from Swedish legends, Edge of Sanity, and play progressive music, the comparisons end there. One listen to ‘The Pure Heart’s Rhyme’ and ‘Lightbringers’ tells you that this Russian duo take Between the Buried and Me as their main influence and the riffing of At the Gates for their sense of purpose. The former is a five-minute stomp of blast beats and furious vocals, like Manchester metalcore heroes, Visitor, but with more death metal in their arsenal. Fans of the latest Bloodred Hourglass record will love the latter – listen to the shredding guitar harmonies among the double-kick drums and tech thrash rhythms. It’s hard to believe a duo can create music as expansive and as frenetic as this with programmed drums. In this department, the snares are thick and the double-bass pedal as efficient as a German Mittelstand workshop.
2021 produced some excellent metalcore records, and Regenesis is not short of comparative references. Erra’s self-titled opus set the standard for progressive metalcore this year, and Denmark’s Ghost Iris released one of the genre’s best LPs in recent years, yet you could just as easily put Verge of Lunacy in the same category as Interloper. How does guitarist, Alexey Lukin, shred through the scales with such perfection on the title track while leaving room for a sudden key change in the chorus? ‘Under the Mask’ is just as impressive – this one offers a whirlwind of mellifluous scale patterns and complex interplay between bass and guitar. No wonder they call their music progressive. The musicianship is exquisite and the final product heavier than the domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral.
It’s good to see SBR favourite, Demether Grail (Neorhythm/Bes (БѢСЪ)), lend a hand with the English lyrics, although his word choices are not always succinct. This may be a translation issue, but the existential message of discovering God within yourself speaks more from a German school of philosophy than a Russian one. The title track sums up the core message of Regenesis: “You’re like a doll under the mask/ Afraid to be yourself, to be the person you’ve created/ Let’s go – it’s time to be unmasked/ If you wanna live in real life.” You probably had a similar reaction the first time you read the lyrics to Sepultura’s ‘Inner Self’ – you know what they want to say and can relate to it through shared sentiment alone.
Apart from a slight overdose of shredding and a relentless focus on smothering the listener with an avalanche of musical notes, Regenesis has more than enough merits to warrant further listening. The neo-classical showmanship offers a welcome alternative to the down-tuned chugs of modern metalcore and avoids the folly of radio rock posturing. But you wouldn’t expect a metal band from Russia to be anything other than uncompromising, technical, and aggressive, would you?
Release Date: 03/09/2021
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: The Pure Heart’s Rhyme, Lightbringers, Under the Mask
Suggested Further Listening: Between the Buried and Me – Colors II (2021), Visitor – A Reason to Atone (2021), Erra – Erra (2021)