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Pesante - Overplayed

Pesante - CD Review


CD Info
Independent Release
6 tracks
English lyrics


This release is being called an EP, I guess, but it’s a fairly substantial EP even if it is only 6 tracks. I learned about the band while talking to another Russian vocalist, Alexandra Revontulet. We were talking about how her music was approaching the Gothic and she suggested looking at Pesante to see some of the best Russian Gothic. Can’t argue with that assessment. But, there’s some history to Pesante, especially to vocalist Natalia Sibilskaya. I had asked the band for a contact to talk with, they referred me to Natalia. Now, I knew I had heard that name before but a lot of Russian vocalists are named Natalia so I wasn’t sure. I had to ask her about it, she reminded me she had been the lead singer for another Russian band, Sunwalter, a band I had written about in an article I did on Russian femme metal. Sunwalter was a truly interesting band. The release I was familiar with was called SETE Evidence and was classified as “Extreme Melodic Space Metal”. . I mean, some really strange but interesting stuff. But, the vocals were spot on, solid in every respect, even if Natalia was singing about The Roswell Incident, Supernova and Phantoms of Mars. I asked her about that relationship, the change from Sci Fi Metal to Gothic and the requirement to deliver in alternate vocal styles. She responded, “Oh, no. I left Sunwalter last spring. And I have a lot of different interests. So, it’s ok for me to work with the band whose songs are about Science Fiction subjects and then with the Gothic band. And also I like different styles of singing. I would like to fulfill myself in operatic singing and in non-operatic singing both. But usually when I hear new song I should sing, the mood of the song dictates me the better style of singing. And often in a specific song I prefer one style of singing to another.” Fortunately, the girl has the talent to do pretty much anything musically, and all of it with a significant degree of excellence.

I also asked Natalia about themes, what’s this release about? She provided an interesting response: “There is a conception that unites all the songs in our album. It is mostly represented in the third song ‘Overplayed’. That’s why the album has the same name. The main idea is that we can compare our life to a theatrical performance where everyone plays a role. And often it happens that in our pathos, self-importance, fallometry, fears or other things like this, we are excessively carried away by our own part, we are overplaying. And finally we can lose ourselves, our souls. But in reality it is just a role, so it would be better to take it easy. This is the meaning of the third song. And other songs are like scenes in a play. Some of them are taken from real life and some are imaginary, they deliver our thoughts through parable.”

Well, as a result of the move to a different style of music, Natalia seems to have been permitted an opportunity to expand on her delivery options. SETI was a sound that focused on a more “other worldly” topic, it was more involved in that message, providing lyrics and a musical direction where the story was all important. It was solid music, but Natalia didn’t really have an opportunity to showcase that amazing voice. On this release she does. And the music itself seems to be expanded in combination with that expanded vocal style. There’s lots of what I would call good ol’ fashioned Gothic in the best tradition of Western Europe, right up there with the Dutch and the Spanish. On other occasions, there’s a focus on the Symphonic metal. Then, with certain instances, you find combinations of elements, including extreme vocals and harder metal components. All of which lead to a highly diversified and entertaining release.

Prozium begins the release, and this one is pure Gothic. The introduction is done with a dark male vocal, not a death vocal, but one done over a solid Gothic metal base. The lyrics introduce us to the direction this work covers:

My pain's coming closer, / Discovering edges of panic regret.
Over and over! Again and again / I'm trying to forget
Desperate creatures were dragging me / Into their world,
Creeping, performing symphonic pain, / Which is untold

At this point we’re introduced to one of the finest femme vocals you’re likely to encounter. Her message takes the previous thoughts into an even darker direction:

Rise from feelings! / You're dreaming in
In the nightmare / Of your dreams.

I feel Prozium in my veins. / I see fearfulness in your glance.
I hear your breath, I feel your fears, / 'Cause I feel nothing...

It’s hard to find a finer Gothic sound than this one, anywhere. All the components are there, vocals, symphonics, metal, the works.

The second track goes in a completely different direction. We begin with what almost sounds like an acoustic Spanish guitar. Natalia’s vocals are different as well, not as dynamic, not as operatic but more soothing, more reflective. Evermore is a softer moment, at least for part of the track. However, again, Natalia seems intent on demonstrating what can be with a vocal at this level of excellence. As we head into the second minute of this nearly 8 minute track the metal flairs up like a screeching phantom from the depths. Natalia goes operatic and we include a male death metal vocal. However, with this one, nothing continues for long, vocals go in multiple directions, both male and female, but, what we’re left with is a feeling that we’ve heard a talent that is near off the charts. There’s melody in each of the six tracks on the release, but that melody can take a variety of pathways. On this track, we see most of them in one selection. I might point out that it’s not just the female vocals on this release that are killer, the male vocal is also solid, both clean and death metal oriented.

Maybe the strongest cut on the release is The Evil Twin. There’s a shit load of solid material on this release, vocals beyond the pale, heavenly symphonics, metal to drive you into the next galaxy. But, on this track, we get a level of production and component interplay that takes this release to a newer and rarely experienced level. And we add something: a choral component. The vocals are mainly Natalia, but, by this time, we’re comfortable with them and recognize that this is first rate, as good as it gets. But, this track takes even that to a new dimension with the fuller interaction of those many parts. Again, it’s a long track, lots of individual themes, lots of movement. Some of the best guitar work on the release, which never hurt anything. But, Natalia’s vocal at the end of this one takes us to the highest level of Femme Metal. In fact, this one is nearly pure opera. Tarja, Simone, Floor, move over, we got another head on the Mt. Rushmore of Femme Metal.

Shame. Fear. Denial is the rocker of the release. But even here we get vocals that are more than worth the price of admission. There’s the ever present symphonic to provide a cushion, there’s a solid drum line. But, with this track, it’s the vocals, especially Natalia’s that keep you listening and recognizing that we have a new gun in town, one that’s locked and loaded. The lyrics are Gothic, but in a somewhat more personal way:

SHE: We went the way, led to the abyss. / Now on the edge I'm scared of the depth.
Fear of your cold, cold of my fear… / I want to hold you, want you to be with me!

HE: Chill is my cold, dry are your cheeks…/ Nevermore I'll be played on by your dirty
Tricks! / With your charm I've been fixed, / When I kissed purple lips,
When I kissed velvet feet, / When we shared midnight lids…

On this we get a more rock oriented vocal from Natalia, the male vocals are all over the place, but solid in each instance. You get a lot more guitar on this one, as would be expected from a more metal oriented sound. This one cooks.

There’s a lot of great material coming out of Russia. I don’t know any country that can match the overall excellence of the female vocals we get from that country. And, this is clearly one of, if not the best. And that’s saying something. Not sure about distribution on this one, but, if you figure it out, grab the credit card. This one’s more than worth it.