Almost eight months after it began, the war in Ukraine drags on. Spawned by Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked aggression and delusional dreams of imperialist grandeur, and prosecuted in part through a litany of apparent war crimes, it has caused agony and death on a large scale. Worse still, it appears to be entering a particularly vicious new phase, where even Putin seems to realize that victory is impossible and that rather than attempt to occupy a country he feels has no right to exist, the mission will now be to terrorize and destroy it.
These events have put many Russians in a difficult position, and a dangerous position for those who not only disagree with what Putin has done but speak out about it. Sure, from afar it seems like most Russians have been kept in the dark or brainwashed by the Kremlin’s propaganda machine, but there have been growing cracks in that wall of misinformation and suppression of dissent. For some people, those cracks began long ago.
Critical Extravasation, the band whose music we’re premiering here, are Russian. Three days after Putin’s invasion, they made this post on their Facebook page:
I’m pretty sure that all of us are aware of the current state of affairs in the world. We are a Russian band, with two members having Ukrainian heritage. We condemn Putin’s rule and the pointless bloodshed that he started. As well as the pointless war of conquest that was happening for the past 8 years. We’ve tagged some Ukrainian bands that you should go and support. The war will be over at some point, but the hatred will remain for a long time. We hope that there will be a time like in the 90s. Ukrainian metal bands like KPP, thrashmachine and many others came to play in Moscow. And bands such as Aria, Master and Alisa played in Ukraine. And everyone would share the gift of music, not the grief of war. Слава Украïнi!
But the band have done more than speak out on social media. One of the members, who by chance has been in school in the UK since before the war began, volunteered for a month at a Ukrainian refugee camp in Latvia. And the band as a whole have made an album that expresses their extreme distaste for the current regime and the horrors it has inflicted in the name of the Russian people.
That album is named Order of Decadence, and it has received the support of Redefining Darkness Records, which will release it on November 18th. In the expression of their own dissent the band have drawn on the influence of the early days of death/thrash, notably Pestilence and Morgoth, and what comes through from the music is the very feeling of resilience and rebellion that fueled their songwriting.
The song we’re premiering today is “Waltz of Hypocrisy“, the track that opens the album. The band tell us this about it:
The writing of “Waltz of Hypocrisy” was inspired by Carcass, Aspid, and ’90s Pestilence. Lyrically, it’s about people who are unwilling to think for themselves. Those who have a need to join a movement in order to feel that they are a part of something bigger.
The song leaps forward in a flurry of maniacally darting guitars, hammering drums, and scalding howls that fire the words as fast as the instruments fly. It’s not only technically impressive, it’s inventively exuberant, spinning with manifold moving parts but holding together in cohesive fashion.
That inventive adventurousness comes through repeatedly, including the point at which a nimble bass solo provides the bridge to a phase of the song that’s even more magical than what preceded it, accented by a beautifully swirling solo that’s full of vibrant life. After that the band kick in the afterburners again, to deliver one last head-spinning adventure.
While frustration, rage, and grief may burden the minds of this band, the music has an irrepressible spirit. It’s fierce, but it also seems to express the kind of joy the band (and most of us) hope will return again in Ukraine (and Russia).
Redefining Darkness will release Order of Decadence on vinyl, CD, and digital formats, and as of today they’re all available for pre-order.