A force of meditative, hypnotic, mesmerizing, emotive, beautiful, uplifting music - Olhava.
Olhava emerges again to enchant us with their unique take on the Blackgaze formula. Surges of beautiful, melodic themes and cascades of translucent sound wash over you only to be broken up by intermezzos of reflective Ambient tracks. Olhava´s two members have once more let colorful nature, inner yearning and pure existentialism inspire them to make 90 minutes of stunning and entrancing music. Listening to their music is like walking through a dense forest where sun rays sparkle on the forest floor and the wind is rushing through the swaying high spruces resulting in wonderful and spellbinding sounds. It is also like a musical tribute to the taiga that surrounds the Earth´s northern hemisphere.
Yes, this music is cinematic, epic, and dramatic. It might be more poetic and captivating than Olhava´s earlier releases, which is quite a feat. You do not leave this music untouched. The album consists of eight compositions, with four of those being tremendously modulated meandering pieces of Blackgaze. These compositions are broken up by four intermezzos of flowing Ambient music. Returning to the forest metaphor, these Ambient interludes are similar to the moment when, on your musing walk through the dense spruce forest, you encounter a clearing with a shimmering pond where a stream of water trickles from one side and trickles out on the other side.
Guitarist Andrey Novozhilov of TRNA and Reverb on Repeat fame began releasing music under the Olhava moniker in 2016. Later he was joined by his TRNA-bandmate and drummer Timur Yusupov (Somn, Austen, TRNA). Both musicians are creative forces to be recognized from the St Petersburg versatile music scene. Sacrifice is the eighth release from Olhava, counting singles and versions. In between these releases, the productive musicians have been involved in other projects as well.
Although on a completely different musical scope, Novozhilov uses his guitars like the guitarist Noveller to create layered sonics making vast use of pedals and effects to embrace the entrancing melodic themes he seems to be able to draw from an inexhaustible source of sparkling inspiration. He adds a resonance of bass to sometimes support the flow of music. He also adds desperate existentialistic screaming vocals to the layers.
Timur Yusupov teams up with his versatile drumming, not only energetic blast pace to intensify the music but also using the whole drumset and cymbals to signal the subtle changes in the cascading flow of the music. Sometimes hitting the bass drums aligns with the bass and the tempos. The way his drumming is immersed in the extensive soundscape has its distant cousin in the way Tangerine Dream orchestrated the drums on the track ”Fly And Collision Of Comas Sola” from the 1971 album Alpha Centauri.
This of course might be a coincidence, but it shows the impact early German “Cosmic Music”, as they called it, has had on Black Metal, from Mayhem, Ulver and Darkthrone to Blackgaze bands like Olhava. They all have their unique musical style and this band maybe even more so as the opener of the album “Forever With You” instantly reveals through the emotional rush of music that reverberates after sounds of streaming water and bird chirping. The melodic theme establishes itself floating above the layers of heavy yet translucent music. The stream of music settles down and opens up for a part where the versatile drums align with the bass as the distorted guitar prepares to once more lift the musical crescendo with long melodic strides until slowly fading into the second track, ”Ageless River VI”.
Before you know it 85 minutes have passed by and you are listening to the timbre of cymbals on the last ambient track, ”Ageless River IX”, and you might be wondering how this music makes time evaporate so fast and where the five first ”Ageless River” tracks can be found. I cannot answer the first, only the second - they can be found on the 2020 Olhava release Lagoda.
At the end of these 85 minutes, you will have been elevated by the third track “I See Myself in Your Eyes” which opens with cymbals being fused into the musical stream. The prominent bass marks minuscule changes and the sound raises and fades in harmony. Also the fifth track, ”Eternal Fire” where the floating sounds from the previous ”Ageless River VII” blend in with the guitar resulting in long melodic phrases with sublime ebb and flow. The drums are diverse and ever-changing, sometimes at a marching pace, sometimes rumbling with the bass inducing a sense of urgency in the flow. After another ambient intermezzo, ”Ageless River VIII”, the smashing drums have heaved you into ”Sacrifice” where the arpeggios and the blast drums contradict each other in the virtually imperceptible mood swings with screaming vocals. In your meditative state, you have been unaware of the sublime shifts in the cascades of sound until you hear the timbre of the cymbals on the last track, ”Agless River IX”.
No one is better to sum up the album than Olhava themselves with the words they wrote on Bandcamp when releasing the single ”Eternal Fire” on Friday October 13th: “This music was written during brief periods over the course of three painfully long years, which transformed all of our lives beyond recognition. Now we wish you the power to keep living, dreaming, and staying on your path.»