Sincerely, I wanted to listen to this CD, given the origin of its members. Azazello is a Russian band with large experience and that now want to enter in the international market with "Black Day". The members of the band are Alexander Kulak (guitars, voice), Dmitry Bakay (bass), Idris Faridonoff (drums) and Vito Afanasev (keyboards). I must recognize that whenever I hear of a Russian prog band, I have doubts, as I just have known in the past bands such as Autograph (closer to Europe than to any other thing) and the hard rock Gorky Park. Fortunately in the case of Azazello we can enjoy good progressive rock made with a lot of honesty and brilliantly executed. Maybe the only weak aspect of the album, which lowers the overall grade of the album, is the fact that the voices are somewhat mediocre and the production is sometimes a little rough and lacking light, but that is always something that can be polished in future works.
Just a listen to the first piece "Beginning of the end" (6:49) we can realise a couple of things: first, Azazello is an original, unpredictable, and they enjoy an impressive easiness at composing melodies, rhythms and strange and risky changes; and second that they sing in Russian, so don't deceive yourselves with the song titles, as it is the only thing you will see in English. Nevertheless the band is instrumental in a 90%. Its music could be placed inside the space instrumental progressive rock with a hard rock flavour. It is an ideal music for lovers of bands as different as Hawkwind, Dream Theater or high-class hard rock (Rush), although at some moments the music of the Russians can remind us from Yes or the craziness of Zappa or Mr. Bungle. Few times I have listened a band that executes so many rhythm changes and style in so little time.
"Black day" (4:42) is an instrumental piece that begins with some space noises that end in a quite lively track dominated by keyboards and rhythm changes. The song gets slower, accelerates again, experiences strange sounds and rhythms, and concludes with a beautiful melody of keyboards and another amazing discharge. "I love that world" (6:04) is a more direct piece, very well elaborated and arranged, but whose vocal melodies are too. Fortunately, the music prevails over the vocal parts. "Free flight" (4:46) follows the same trail of the previous one. I do not dare to tell you if it is a slow, fast or mid-tempo piece. "Demon of love" (6:40) is another instrumental nightmare that begins in a thrash metal style to then enter into a vocal section with really original interventions by the musicians, and with rhythm changes every 10 seconds. Afanasev is splendid with the keyboards, and the band is shown in great shape, especially in the final bars of the song, with some instrumental moments that remind from Russian folklore. Where Azazello really excels is in the songs "Take your choice!" (6:40) and the suite "Nightmare before the Christmas" (10:44). If these boys are able to surprise in 4 minutes, you can guess what they can make in almost 11... Hard moments, folk-rock, impossible percussions, experimentation, electronic sounds, the first Marillion, medieval blinks. To conclude, a beautiful and pastoral "Christmas" (2:15), an instrumental with the help of guitars that demonstrates that Azazello can also make simple and beautiful things.
In definitive, a very interesting band that we must follow closely as they have that valuable gift that is originality, which so many prog bands lack. Maybe the reason is that in Russia they have not as much access to music as in the West?. It is possible. What is clear is that they don't remind from anyone or nearly nothing at least. Azazello is a band that is worth checking; you may love or hate them, but they will never leave you indifferent.