Review Summary: If this record was ‘Russian Winters’ last battle they would definitely be throwing the knockout punch
When it comes to listening and writing about music, I usually don’t stray too far from my genre of choice, hard rock. My tastes do extend further than hard rock reaching out into other genres, but I just don’t pay as much attention to them. A local Perth band called ‘Russian Winters’ has stopped this lack of attention dead in its tracks with a parcel of well crafted Indie tracks that creates their debut album ‘Last Battles’.
To kick things off ‘Last Battles’ begins with the track ‘Race to the Mountains’ which features jangly piano and authoritative marching drum beat that gets your feet tapping to its rhythm almost immediately. Vocals fade from ear to ear with an echo effect that gives this song a very nostalgic feel. Although this effect sometime makes the lyrics hard to understand, it does wonders for the chorus and aids the lyrics “I’ve slipped into a dream” by making it even catchier. ‘Race to the Mountains’ retreats quietly and ends in a piano playing out to the close. ‘Pacific’ comes into play next and is the first single plucked from the album. The song begins with a creeping bass riff that bears similarities to No Doubt’s “Hella Good”; it is very infectious and acts as the backbone of this song. Vocal harmonies, trumpets and shifts in tempo all combine to create a very interesting blend of indie rock. At times lead singer Kris Dimitroff’s vocals sound reminiscent of Brandon Flowers of The Killers, however his voice sometimes gets lost beneath the music. ‘Pacific’ ends with swirling guitars and atmospheric sound effects that make one feel like they’re fading beneath the pacific itself. At first, ‘Pacific’ may seem to be the best track on the album however the very next track ‘Verhoeven’ grabs all of your attention and shows just how wrong this assumption is. ‘Verhoeven’ features a huge opening section filled with a catchy array of trumpets, which continue to drive the song to its close. Whilst the trumpets continue to project their blazing rhythm, the word ‘Verhoeven’ is shouted eloquently over the top to add a further dynamic to the song and showcase just how much depth it has to offer. Between the catchy lyrics and powerful musicianship, this song can only be explained as an epic battle within itself, which you have to listen to and can’t veer away from.
After such a stand out track like ‘Verhoeven’ is finished it seems hard for a band to create more of the same to keep the album alive. Russian Winters not only maintain quality tracks until the final note, but show off a range of styles in doing so. The track ‘Millions’ delivers a reflective question via its pop-influenced chorus “would you give up your millions for me"”. ‘Millions’ is aided by very bassy driven verses and mechanical drumming that leads into a softer, fun chorus full of little nuances. After a few more tracks ‘Put Me To Bed’ begins and immediately overwhelms the listener with emotion. The beginning sounds like being in a dark house listening to the crackles of a record playing, before being interrupted by a distant piano that eerily creeps down the hallway and floats into your room. Echoing guitar plucks, reminiscent of Dredg, and the quick whisks of drumming add to the haunting aura that surrounds this song. Half-way through the ghostly vocals stop and lingering music fades out for a clearer, crisper music style with grungy guitar and hammering drums, as if the song has been given a new sense of life. ‘Put Me To Bed’ is a song that just keeps rewarding the listener who is willing to hit the replay button more than once. The final cut off the album ‘Sleeper Hit’ is rather slower than anything else off the record, but the repetition of lyrics “waiting for the word to catch on” and the use of soft chimes of piano make it bigger than it actually is. The drum beat throughout the song isn’t overdone and suits the song perfectly; much like the drumming in Thrice’s ‘Digital Sea’, except with the added effect that the trumpets create within this song. ‘Sleeper Hit’ fades out with music that seems to conclude what was a hard fought victory by sounding very bold and triumphant.
Apart from opening my eyes to a genre I have long forgotten about, what ‘Russian Winters’ have crafted with this album is nothing short of amazing. ‘Last Battles’ oozes with tight musicianship, distorted vocals and echoing guitar picks; aided by plenty of unique little surprises to keep the album afloat. ‘Russian Winters’ also play around with some other genres and weave some killer pop hooks into their indie rock sound, particularly with the track ‘Millions’. It can be said if this record was ‘Russian Winters’ last battle they would definitely be throwing the knockout punch.