Album of the Week 44-2019: Teatr Teney – Zver’

Dark power metal is not easy to pull off. Many European bands attempting the style have choruses that are a tad too sing-along-oriented to really nail the atmosphere. Russia’s Teatr Teney does a better job and their second official album ‘Zver” goes a long way of showing the power metal crowd why they should not be discouraged by the language barrier. Even more impressive is how Teatr Teney achieves this darkness without excessive use of keyboards or other atmospheric elements. All this band needs in order to create an immersive listening experience is a bunch of minor key riffs and a theatrical singer.

To start with the latter, Denis Masharov is an important part of why Teatr Teney sounds like they do. His range is not the largest in the scene, but he manages to wring a lot of different colors out of his voice. On ‘Zver”, you can mainly hear his agressive rasp and his powerful cleans, depending on what the song needs. Yevgeny Isayev’s guitar work is excellent as well, however, as is his thick, pulsating rhythm guitar sound. It often sounds like Masharov, Isayev and drummer Dmitry Mozonov are trying to push each other off the record in the best way possible.

All these elements come together in a way that doesn’t sound unlike Germany’s Brainstorm, but with a more consistently ominous vibe. Even the aggressive uptempo tracks like ‘Vsadnik’ and the semi-thrashy closing track ‘Voron’ have a melancholic undercurrent. Likewise, even the more melodic mid-tempo tracks like ‘Oryol’ and ‘Al Enquentro!’ have a bit of an aggressive bite. This allows the band to adopt different approaches for each track without ever straying too far from their core sound. The biggest departure would probably be Isayev’s neoclassical workout ‘Zelyoniye Rukava / Shtorm / Koda’ and even that one fits the album well.

Standout tracks include the doomy stomper ‘Zmeya’, quite possibly the darkest moment on the album, the powerful opener ‘Belaya Volchitsa’ and the somewhat similar-sounding speedy track ‘Volki’. ‘Mobi Dik’ starts out sounding like it will be a more contemporary-sounding midtempo metal track, but despite a few borderline modern prog riffs, it ends up sounding more like an epic heavy metal track with an increased emphasis on dynamics than anything else. These tracks do stand out, but overall, ‘Zver” is a very consistent record that does have a few highs, but doesn’t really contain any lows.

While I like power metal, the twenty-first century power metal scene has suffered a lot from bands that either try to prove their traditionalist nature by sticking as closely as possible to established characteristics or try to infuse it with as many modernisms as possible, forgetting to write good songs in the process. Teatr Teney does just that on ‘Zver”. The album – as well as the excellent EP ‘Tvoya Ten” that was released the following year – doesn’t try to be anything else than the best music they could possibly come up with at the time. As a result, this should appeal to any fan of the darker side of power metal, though it is intense enough to appeal to thrash metal fans as well.

Recommended tracks: ‘Belaya Volchitsa’, ‘Volki’, ‘Zmeya’

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