We Stood Like Kings
USSR 1926


4.5
superb

Review

by Arche USER (90 Reviews)
October 30th, 2015 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A gorgeous, wondrous journey into the USSR, circa 1926, courtesy of Dziga Vertov and We Stood Like Kings.

The era of the silent film was largely over by 1930, harmed by the success of 'The Jazz Singer' (which was NOT the first 'talkie', but the first to garner widespread success) and then laid to rest by the invention of sound-on-film methods. With it, as an unfortunate by-product, went many of the composers dedicated to writing whole film scores, as did the orchestras that would play those live to the audience as they watched in the cinema. In more recent times however, some of these films have been brought back to life musically, either using the original scores or from the composition of new music. Belgian post-rock quartet 'We Stood Like Kings' come from the latter school, and with their second effort set out an absolutely breathtaking piece of music for Dziga Vertov's 1926 insight into the diversity of the Soviet Union, 'One-Sixth of the World'.

It would be easy to discuss at great length how this complements Vertov's documentary, and indeed watching the film alongside 'USSR 1926' is a truly wonderful experience (if occasionally a bit peculiar). However, what makes this such a good piece of music is that it's as good, if not better, when standing up for itself. One could be forgiven for thinking that this is simply one piece of music constructed from various movements - and a very reasonable argument could be made to show that one wouldn't be wrong - but regardless of where the listener stands on its make-up, as a composition this is stunning. The key driving force on 'USSR 1926' is its usage of piano, which forms the majority of the melodies and ergo the sections that prove immediately arresting, such as the crescendos of album highlight 'Samoyedes' and much of 'Kremlin' and 'Icebreaker Lenin'. However, equally important to the enjoyability and impact of this album are the atmospheric capabilities of the guitars and the synths - the aforementioned tracks both rely on the backing instrumentation to invoke the emotional reaction they do, and much of the dynamic shifting present is a product of these components. Tracks such as Caravan and Volchovstroy also allow the guitars to shine through as a key instrument, with a neat solo found at the end of the former and traces of progressive metal coming through in the latter.

While the tracks on 'USSR 1926' are all great in their own right, it's best experienced as a journey, in one solid go when the time is available. A journey is an oft-used buzzword when it comes to post-rock in particular, but in this instance it makes absolute sense; the progression between tracks, the inspiration behind it, and the array of emotions touched upon throughout mean there's not much that could describe it better. Although as mentioned earlier this is meant partially as a companion piece to a film (and again, should the time be found it is well worth watching alongside this album), the feeling that one could go into this without the preconceptions and the background and still come out of it with a feeling of awe is very much my belief.



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user ratings (8)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Archelirion
October 30th 2015


5901 Comments


Ooooooooooooooh boy I have been waiting on this for ages, and it's even better than I could possibly have imagined. Album stream here -> https://kapitaenplatte.bandcamp.com/album/we-stood-like-kings-ussr-1926, comments and corrections as always welcomed.

RadicalEd
October 30th 2015


9546 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great review aaron. Will check.

Archelirion
October 30th 2015


5901 Comments


Thanks man :] Knowing what happens with me half the time everyone else is gonna think this sucks but I hope you dig it ^.^

LaughingSkull
October 31st 2015


613 Comments


I was just listening to Egor Letov, so I'll definitely check this out. This was the greatest political entity in the history of humankind after all. Shame about what Reagan, Yeltsin and Gorbachov did. Fucking criminals.

LapisLazuli
October 31st 2015


34 Comments


nice review. i really like the way you write and this sounds very promising

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
October 31st 2015


11746 Comments


Great rev, this looks interesting

Digging: Mercyful Fate - Melissa

Sniff
October 31st 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sounds sweet. I'll check it out

Archelirion
October 31st 2015


5901 Comments


Cheers guys :] Never listened to Egor Letov, but reading about him he seems pretty interesting to say the least.

JohnDillinger
October 31st 2015


259 Comments


Looking forward to seeing them perform live in my town soon

Archelirion
October 31st 2015


5901 Comments


:o I am a slightly bit jealous of you right now! I had a look but sadly there's no UK dates on their tour. Hope it's great!

Sniff
November 10th 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'll live update while listening to this for the first time. The piano in the second track sounds like the piano in "I would do Anything for Love". That's a good thing.

Sniff
November 10th 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

First track might be a bit too repetative and Explosion-y though.

Sniff
November 10th 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice work with the bass in the third song

Sniff
November 10th 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Song 4: It's hard to keep track of where one song end and the other begins

Sniff
November 10th 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is that a hint of triplets I hear?

Sniff
November 10th 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Kremlin has a nice build going.

Sniff
November 10th 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Immense Wealth is the best track yet.

Sniff
November 10th 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Track 7 doesn't seem to head anywhere! Aimless track.

Sniff
November 10th 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

All these piled crescendos.

Sniff
November 10th 2015


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm starting to feel this is too long for it's own good. Ideas starting to feel recycled by this point.



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