Review by Alex on May 5, 2018.
Ukraine’s Hesperion bring a well balanced ratio of progressive and modern power metal (incorporated with gothic and little folk music instrumentation) on their debut 2017 album Живим (Who Alive). It is a groovy blast for most of its time. I enjoy that they give every aspect of the music an opportunity to reveal itself amongst the grandeur as a whole. The guitar playing is excellent and adds flare throughout the album, the keyboard sections add more memorable touches to music, the drumming is exceptional and maintains good pace, whilst fabulous singing lays gently on the comforting instrumental notes. I love way the Ukrainian lyrics sound vocally; they add a delightful feeling to the music being played. What Hesperion creates on Живим is such a fantastic ride for the latter portion of it’s 42 minute stretch. In some instances the listener can discern a bit of early Nightwish (particularly Century Child era) and even slight traces of Khan’s (Kamelot) vocal style on various sections of the album. The keyboard being played by Gulnara Asanova has a very gothic overtone that adds a complimentary touch to Yaremenkos’s and Buslenko’s guitars and the overall music in general. I’m happy that Hesperion didn’t over-steer in the power metal direction, instead, they layered the foundation with sturdy supportive elements of progressive metal and let the guitarists handle the power metal aspect of the music (which was executed brilliantly).
I've noticed that the second half of Живим is much stronger than the first half. Not that the 3 opening songs are bad by any any means; they cannot share the 1st place podium position with the latter half of the album in terms of melody, memorability and composition. “Анжелика” (“Angelica”) though being a decent song has a relatively shaky beginning and does not confidently lead the listener’s attention. It does build in musical strength around the 1:51 mark but is interrupted too soon. The remainder of “Анжелика” (“Angelica”) resembles filler. Also its playtime of 6:31 did not help the situation. Hesperion should have given the keyboards greater influence over the track via a longer soloing section beginning at the 1:51 mark. “Тысячи бессонных ночей” (“Thousands Sleepless Nights”) would have served as a much better opening track. It gives the listener tiny peeks into the respective personalities of the Hesperion instrumentation and what is to be expected as the album progresses. “Танец над бездной” (Dance Over Abyss) helps to maintain the stability achieved by the previous song; it builds on the positives showcased prior to its inception.
There’s something on Живим (Who Alive) for supporters of both the progressive and power genres. It also has a strong gothic vibe on the keyboards for those who are into that particular style of music. Живим (Who Alive) is a well above decent debut album by Hesperion, I would love to own a physical copy of it sometime in the future. Hesperion definitely has many great things going for them with Живим(Who Alive) and I hope to hear much more from them as they evolve as musicians.
Танец над бездной (Dance Over Abyss)
Призрак войны (Ghost of War)
Живим (Who Alive)
Rating: 8.5 out of 10