HESPERION "Живим... / Who Alive..." 2017
/Total Metal Records/

Tracklist:
1. Анжелика / Angelica 06:31
2. Тысячи бессонных ночей / Thousands Sleepless Nights 04:06
3. Танец над бездной / Dance Over Abyss 04:52
4. Ленор / Lenore 09:23
5. Призрак войны / Ghost of War 07:52
6. Живим / Who Alive 03:33
7. Страж Вітчизни / Guardian of Homeland 05:48
Total playing time: 42:42

 

 

 

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MetalBite

Ukraine’s Hesperion bring a well balanced ratio of progressive and modern power metal (incorporated with gothic and little folk music instrumentation) on their debut 2017 album Живим (Who Alive). It is a groovy blast for most of its time. I enjoy that they give every aspect of the music an opportunity to reveal itself amongst the grandeur as a whole. The guitar playing is excellent and adds flare throughout the album, the keyboard sections add more memorable touches to music, the drumming is exceptional and maintains good pace, whilst fabulous singing lays gently on the comforting instrumental notes. I love way the Ukrainian lyrics sound vocally; they add a delightful feeling to the music being played. What Hesperion creates on Живим is such a fantastic ride for the latter portion of it’s 42 minute stretch. In some instances the listener can discern a bit of early Nightwish (particularly Century Child era) and even slight traces of Khan’s (Kamelot) vocal style on various sections of the album. The keyboard being played by Gulnara Asanova has a very gothic overtone that adds a complimentary touch to Yaremenkos’s and Buslenko’s guitars and the overall music in general. I’m happy that Hesperion didn’t over-steer in the power metal direction, instead, they layered the foundation with sturdy supportive elements of progressive metal and let the guitarists handle the power metal aspect of the music (which was executed brilliantly).
I've noticed that the second half of Живим is much stronger than the first half. Not that the 3 opening songs are bad by any any means; they cannot share the 1st place podium position with the latter half of the album in terms of melody, memorability and composition. “Анжелика” (“Angelica”) though being a decent song has a relatively shaky beginning and does not confidently lead the listener’s attention. It does build in musical strength around the 1:51 mark but is interrupted too soon. The remainder of “Анжелика” (“Angelica”) resembles filler. Also its playtime of 6:31 did not help the situation. Hesperion should have given the keyboards greater influence over the track via a longer soloing section beginning at the 1:51 mark. “Тысячи бессонных ночей” (“Thousands Sleepless Nights”) would have served as a much better opening track. It gives the listener tiny peeks into the respective personalities of the Hesperion instrumentation and what is to be expected as the album progresses. “Танец над бездной” (Dance Over Abyss) helps to maintain the stability achieved by the previous song; it builds on the positives showcased prior to its inception.
There’s something on Живим (Who Alive) for supporters of both the progressive and power genres. It also has a strong gothic vibe on the keyboards for those who are into that particular style of music. Живим (Who Alive) is a well above decent debut album by Hesperion, I would love to own a physical copy of it sometime in the future. Hesperion definitely has many great things going for them with Живим(Who Alive) and I hope to hear much more from them as they evolve as musicians.

Favorite tracks:
Танец над бездной (Dance Over Abyss)
Ленор (Lenore)
Призрак войны (Ghost of War)
Живим (Who Alive)

8.5/10
Alex (http://metalbite.com)

Metallian

This Ukrainian sextet's debut, roughly translated to Who Alive, is seven songs and 42 minutes long. Its cover art looks like a modified version of Overkill's Feel The Fire. Released under Metal Scrap's Total Metal arm the songs are sang in the band's native tongue with a claim to be a progressive heavy/power metal band. An epic sound is expected. The songs though longer than normal are not too complex, Vitaliy's vocals are simple and music contains relatively little intricacy. More power metal songs like Танец над бездной (Dance Over The Abyss) offer the necessary ingredients of solos, keyboards and faster riffs without breaking any ground. Ленор (Lenore) is a over nine minutes long and naturally features variations. It is sometimes catchy, sometimes heavy metal and to its credit it stays longer in the latter category as might be expected. Призрак войны (The Ghost Of War) builds up to a something a la a progressive power metal song. The title track is the shortest song of the album. Vocals and keyboards dominate and it features a solo too. The near six minutes long closer is a slightly longer version of the song before it, those extra minutes change little for this band who would perhaps be more at home in the ‘80s.

50/100
Anna Tergel (http://metallian.com)

Metalegion #2/2017

issue2 frontpageIt’s sad... It isn’t often that I feel a band could have nailed it if they simply have done things just slightly different. “Who Alive...”, is the debut album from the Ukrainian progressive heavy/power metal quintet Hesperion and while instrumentally is really strong for a debut album forcing the band to be comparable to names like Stratovarious, Vision Divine or Symphony X, it’s the vocals that, for me, obliterate almost completely the atmosphere of the album. I’m not against the use of mother tongue in metal, there are in fact quite successful stories of bands using their native language, black metal uses and abuses this variant, however when a strong accent turns it tricky and almost ruins the harmonies and melodies of a solid instrumental base then I must be definitely against. I recognize that it can be simply a matter of not understanding the language and Hesperion might be a tremendous sensation among Ukrainian or East European fans, nevertheless for the large majority of the fans it’s slightly ambiguous. Based on heavy metal structures and the excitement of power metal, they surely have built a strong instrumental base where the guitars dwell with sharp riffing and solo patterns while the bassist solidifies the rhythmic changes either on more melodic, untamed, doom or progressive tempos. The longest cut ‘Lenore’ is probably the highest point on “Who Alive...”, which despite the 9 minutes of running time sees the band taking full advantage of the dual vocal effect, choirs, frenetic guitar transitions, slow and faster arrangements and bewitching keyboard melodies. ‘Ghost of War’ and ‘Who Alive’ follows with steady paces and being very powerful songs they manage sometimes to overcome the language barrier by blending vengeful upbeat tempos with melodic leads and lavish guitar sections. A band that if want to reach bigger audiences really needs to consider the possibility of singing in English. The way it is now, yes it’s exotic but it might turn big only among Eastern Europe metal fans.

6.5 / 10 
RICARDO AZEVEDO (Metalegion #2/2017)

ATMOSFEAR #20

Atmosfear 20Кто только не играл смесь из хэви павера с прогрессивом. И самое интересное, что почти все команды звучат неплохо. Откровенных провалов было мало. Может это, потому что слишком широка тропа и очень многие по ней уже прошли. Есть правила и каноны, используя которые сильно не провалишься. Может да, а может, нет. Другое дело, что отличных альбомов в данном стиле не так много, как следовало бы ожидать. Вот дебютный альбом киевлян, и он выдержан именно в этом стиле. Достаточно эпичный, слегка пафосный, красивый, когда требуется. Но из семи композиций только одна «Танец над Бездной» претендует на хитовость. Остальные композиции достаточно крепкие, но также можно назвать их стандартными. Пять песен на русском и две последние на украинском. Вокал зачетный, но лирика про войну в его исполнении звучит хреново, лучше петь про Анжелику. Одним словом, вот такой вот альбом.

7/10
Neophyte

 

THE METAL MAG

Seven tracks of pure happiness for your ears, starting with a kinda folk intro they are bringing many instruments and musical knowledge with sometimes speed moments. All those influences and creations are giving this band a place to be in your collection and in the top charts amongst the Metal bands .
They deserve big exposure and while they sing and have all written in their language with little english underneath the title tracks. It’s really full of heart and melodies with technics that will please most of the people who cherish those famous bands songs.
Influences ranging from Blind Guardian, Symphony X, Royal Hunt, King Diamond, Iron Maiden, Labyrinth, Aria, Vision Divine…Malmsteen with Joe Lynn Turner..The Scorpions…
Song after song , they drive you and when the album is finished you just have to play it again, this is pure beauty.
This band is a top quality one so make yourself a favor and buy this album

100/100
http://www.themetalmag.com

Slowly We Rot #10

Slowly We Rot 10Young band from Kiev presenting here their debut full-length album, the result of their first 3 years as a band, 7 tracks clocking a bit over 40 minutes of playing time, but sadly enough (at least for me), this one seems to be targeting their local supporters only since its booklet is completely in Cyrillic writing, so I don't understand anything from it. Too bad as it seems lyrics are a pretty important part in Hesperion's atmosphere routed towards philosophical themes. The music is a fine mix of Heavy Power Metal and Progressive Metal, nice flowing and enough intricate to create suspense, but lacking an own identity for the moment; since it's the band's debut album just creating these interesting harmonies and presenting a professional, solid album is a good achievement, but it's obvious the current Progressive Metal scene has developed a lot since the '90's when this album seems to be pinned to. Not much more to add, it's an enjoyable debut album, not powerful enough to break any boundaries, but well-conceived and realized in order to make us understand this band has potential.

7/10 (Slowly We Rot #10)

Metal Centre

The Ukrainian Metal sextet was set up in 2014 in Irpin, in the Kyiv region. This disc is their first release at all. And it is very successful. I like this album, also because the music in many places – eg. in the songs “Тысячи бессонных ночей” and “Танец над бездной” is similar with very unappreciated Polish ABRAXAS, which I adore. These similarities are in the vocals and playing of guitarists, and the way they build the songs.
Musically… The fragments mood and romantic are interwoven on the album, as well as Prog Rock (which often remind me ABRAXAS) and in addition sharp Heavy Metal. HESPERION has a large line-up, but every musician and vocalist (sometimes there are singing of two vocalists in one song) brings a lot to the whole, everyone is needed. First of all, the guitarists cause delight. They often showing off great parties and solos. It is feel that they are playing straight from the heart.
The dialogues of both guitars are very curious. The bassist also shows his skills on many occasions. The same is with the drummer. The vocalist feels its lyrics, singing in a way filled with emotions. Sometimes two singers sing simultaneously or alternately. And about the keys, it seems that they are still in the background, they are just a minor addition. But they are really important, in different places they use skilfully different types of sounds (eg. harpsichord, piano). Without this spice, the musical taste would be worse. Anyway, the keys also has some interesting solos.
The compositions are multidimensional. They contain a lot of themes, some are more progressive, and others are more heavy-metal. But this music flows and takes the listener. There is the confusion of different means of expression – lyricism, sublime, instrumental efficiency, metal gallop. The arrangements are not chaotic, everything fits together. It is a work full of drama and pulsating life.
The philosopher Heidegger once wrote that “nothingness is nothing”. I would say that in the case of this band “the music makes music”. I think HESPERION’s career is just beginning.

9.0/10
Pavel (Metal Centre)

Scream Magazine #217

19227550 1879378398978634 7498049314313207808 nMed en skrivefeil i albumtittelen var det men en ullen smak i munnen jeg satte pâ dette albumet. Bandet er fra Irpin, en forstad til Kiev, og engelsk var nok ikke favorittfaget til vokal* isten. Derfor synges det pâ morsmâlet, og jeg skjonner ikke en dritt. Det hadde jeg antagelig ikke gjort om han hadde sunget pâ engelsk, heller. Stilmessig snakker vi ganske typisk
europeisk métal, men med fravær av gode lâter. Teknisk lâter det vel greit, men plastikk- synthen som forestiller et helt symfoniorkester lurer ingen. Dette var triste saker.

Hans Mikael Odegaard (Scream Magazine #217)

NECROMANCE #42

2017 07 02 001136No es una fácil tarea reseñar un lanzamiento como el que nos presentan los ucranianos HESPERION en su debut “Who alive…”. Heavy Power Metal con toques progresivos y un halo muy particular alrededor de su sonido (amén de la barrera que puede suponer para el gran público el idioma). Una banda muy joven cantando en su idioma natal, a pesar de traducir los títulos de las canciones al inglés, con unas composiciones notablemente extensas que recogen un buen puñado de in# uencias. “Angelica” abre el disco, un corte que pasa por diferentes tempos y melodías, con una estructura clara pero poco común. Tan pronto pueden recordar a unos BLIND GUARDIAN como a unos GHOST, especialmente por ese aura tan oscuro y fantasmal que desprende instrumental y vocalmente, con un Oleg “Gera” Gerasko a las voces, y bajo, de buen registro pero algo “plano”. El siguiente tema, “Thousands Sleeples Nights” carece de cierta fuerza, con unas guitarras a cargo de Denis Buslenko y Andrii “Andrik” Yaremenko que en ocasiones se repiten sin demasiada necesidad, y un Gulnara Asanova a los teclados al que le falta acaparar un mayor protagonismo en algunos pasajes de la canción. Mejora notablemente el compacto con “Dance Over Abyss”, en el que practican un power speed metal mucho más clásico y melódico, al más puro estilo STRATOVARIUS, recordándome incluso vocalmente al registro de Kotipelto en algunos dejes. Sin embargo en “Lenore”, el tema más largo del álbum con más de nueve minutos de duración, se dejan seducir de nuevo por su vertiente más progresiva, recargada y próxima a la oscuridad de bandas como KING DIAMOND. Aquí el tiempo juega a su favor y los guitarras demuestran de forma mucho más explayada y evidente su buen hacer a las seis cuerdas. Recuperan su velocidad anterior a lomos de “Ghost of War”, otro de las composiciones más largas y metaleras de su carta de presentación. Con el tema que da titulo al álbum, “Who Alive” van directos al grano, al ritmo que marca la revolucionada base rítmica de Gera y la caña tras el bombo, con un mayor afán de protagonismo, esta vez sí, a cargo de las delicadas teclas de Asanova, dotando al corte en esos pasajes de cierto regusto a KAMELOT. Se despiden con “Guardian of Homeland”, mucho más progresivo sin dejar de lado el espíritu más heavy metalero de su sonido, completando un interesante debut, que quizás no sea para todos los públicos, pero que bien seguro encontrará su público. Veremos que nos deparan en un futuro, pues presentan pinceladas más que interesantes, aunque quizás aún les quede camino por recorrer.

6/10
LLUÍS GARCÍA SOLA (NECROMANCE #42)

World Of Metal #5

World Of Metal 5Estes ucranianos, im isso mesmo, cranianos, näo deapontam na sua streia. Sonoridade tcrivel, muito heavy power progressiva, or vezes imprevisivel, solos fantâsticos, mas, marcada por urn ponto que pode ser urn obstâculo, totalmente cantado na lingua materna da banda. Näo sou contra, nada disso, bem pelo contrario, mas no meu entender prejudica a sonoridade global do grupo que até é muito agradavel. “...Who Alive...” é o resultado de anos de trabalho traduzido em sete temas que abrangem diferentes visôes musicais. Para os fans de Blind Guardian, Symphony X deem uma espreitadela. Vale a penal!

7/10
Miguel Correia (World Of Metal #5)

Rock Hard #40

Rock Hard 40Ukrajinskä kapela HESPERION näm ukazuje svoju tvär v progresivnej po- dobe, aj kecf toho progresu tarn nie je toTko, akoby si clovek zelal. Sedem skladieb, ktore sa nachä- dzaju na albume, je velTni dobre pocu vateTnych a jeho väcsia cast sa pohybuje v jemnejsej podobe. Rovno- väha jemnosti a tvrdosti je ideälna a nerusi pözitok z hudby. Striedanie tvrdsich pasäzi s baladickymi je pocutetne asi v kazdej skladbe. Texty su naspievane ako inak ako vo svojom rodnom jazyku. Spev sa pohybuje väcsinou v strednych vyskach a hnecf mi pripomenul spevaka z ruskej kapely CATHARSIS. Prirovnanie kapely k nejakej je dost zlozite, lebo po pravde s takouto kapelou som sa nestretol. Je tarn citif ten vychodny pristup k hudbe. ale to urcite nie neuberä.

4/5
PAVEL MADOLA (Rock Hard #40)

 

Metal Revolution

Who Alive… is a debut seven-tracker full-length album by Ukrainian sextet Hesperion. The band was created in 2014 so I didn’t have any knowledge of this upcoming band prior to listening to this debut. I didn’t know what to expect but judging by the album cover I thought it was a piece of black metal. From the opening tune of the first track “Angelica” I could immediately tell that it got nothing to do with black metal, but rather a progressive/heavy/power metal.
Who Alive… consists of the aforementioned seven compositions that are unique in a sense that the band left its own signature sound. However, there’s almost no variation in-between these seven songs, more or less all sounding the same. The songs are complex spanning different eras, different philosophy and different world-view. In other words; lyrical content is strong and philosophical, but again the singing in their native language doesn’t help promoting the band to the wider metal audience.
Some of the songs are in an epic mood, some are more ballads and some are even faster and more aggressive, but what they all have in common is a repetitive tunes and this typical progressive and heavy touch.
Overall, the vocals are decent and all the remaining instruments (guitars and drums) are handled professionally. The main problem I have is again the repetitive nature of it and boredom. The dramatic build-ups and galloping tunes are rare. Song-writing and compositions definitely have to improve for the follow-up.
Who Alive… is a decent and average introduction to the Hesperion universe, so I would esp. recommend it for fans of Blind Guardian, Symphony X, Royal Hunt, King Diamond, Labyrinth, Aria, Vision Divine and similar acts!

Bato (http://www.metal-revolution.com)

Battle Helm

Back in the 80s it was exotic with a band from the Soviet Union that sang in their native tongue. Still to this day it is as exotic to me to receive a record by a band that sings in a language that I have no knowledge of. Strangely enough that makes it a bit more exciting to dissect this record even though it musically won’t be that different from bans that sing in languages that I do understand. HESPERION play a progressive kind of power metal. What confuses me is that it sounds like it is a woman singing but I can’t seem to indentify her in the line-up. But that is the only confusing I have about this album. If you want a metal album that has a sound along the lines of
Progressive meets power then this is a good choice.

3,5/5
Anders Ekdahl (http://battlehelm.com)

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