the sea is frozen in your eyes
I am chained tightly in the ice
and in the stupefied gulls’ chorus
my cry is lost forever
Chernaya Rechka, a post-soviet post-punk and darkwave band, has just released their highly anticipated self-titled album, which, when translated into English, reads as “Black River.” This captivating and atmospheric album takes listeners on a deep sonic journey inspired by the band members’ hometowns, Kirov and Saint Petersburg, and feels like an intricate narrative weaving a detailed story with intrigue and nuance.
Since their formation in 2013, the dynamic trio of Chernaya Rechka has been relentlessly captivating audiences with their unique musical prowess. The band consists of Den, the mastermind behind the rhythmic drum patterns, Jenya, the bass virtuoso, and Igor, who skillfully commands the guitar while delivering deeply emotive vocals. Together, they have built an unyielding presence in the music scene, continuously pushing boundaries and leaving an indelible mark with their distinctive sound.
With their self-titled LP, Chernaya Rechka navigates the turbulent waters of contemporary music with unwavering determination. With Chernaya Rechka the band’s offerings hold a mirror to the human condition, encapsulating profound introspection within their thought-provoking lyrics that provoke contemplation, unearthing hidden truths within the recesses of the mind as they deftly weave between icy electronics and warm acoustic guitars. It is an invitation to plunge headfirst into the black river and to emerge transformed. Unlike their contemporaries Molchat Doma or Ploho, who might emerge as comparisons, their sound dwells more in the realm of Joy Division, REM, and early U2 than the existentialist gloom of post-Soviet ennui.
From the get-go, the album explodes onto the scene with a clear indication of victory. Chernaya Rechka is a complex sonic treat that hooks you from the opening notes. Labels like ‘dark punk’ and ‘goth punk’ get tossed around freely when bands start dabbling in flanger effects and the singer takes on a more impassioned tone. But this is a beast of a record, emitting an icy desperation that’s as captivating as it is unsettling…and its eclectic mix of styles, from traditional Russian folk to pure darkwave, keeps us on our toes. Each Russian-language composition becomes a vessel, filled to the brim with haunting melodies that linger in the depths of the psyche, exuding a mesmerizing aura that transcends the boundaries of conventional sonic landscapes. It’s easy to forget that the songs are in Russian at times – they transcend the language barrier and cut right throw the marrow and into the soul.
Chernaya Rechka is a chilling ode to the tormented artist, a symphony that perfectly captures the paradox of beauty in damnation. This isn’t just impressive – it’s awe-inspiring.
The album opens with the hauntingly cinematic “Романс (Romance),” setting a brooding tone that carries throughout the record. Standout tracks include the mesmerizing “Жалость (Pity),” which captivates with its old-school post-punk bass and guitar strumming, and the intricately layered darkwave of “Звезда (Star).” The melancholic 80s-inspired rock of “Лёд (Ice)” adds another dimension to the album, showcasing the band’s versatility.
Each song on the album brings something unique to the table, ensuring that the listening experience never becomes repetitive. The only repetition you’ll find here is the compulsion to listen to the album again and again, from start to finish. This is a testament to the band’s ability to create an album that not only stands out but also stands up to repeated listens.
Listen below and order here.
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