VESPERO - Surpassing All Kings

Vespero - Surpassing All Kings

7 songs
54:59 minutes
***** ****


Sometimes it’s good when bands start out slowly, like Russian psychedelic rockers Vespero who released tons of self-released CD-Rs before they finally came with their first proper studio album Rito two years ago. Using their early years to hone their craft, their label debut consisted of newly arranged and recorded songs from their previous outputs. Since then, they released two more live albums and are now back with their second studio record Surpassing All Kings, their first containing fully new written material.

If I had to criticise the band’s occasional lack of focus on the debut, I can assure that this problem has been solved, leaving us this time with an impeccable album that I would not have expected from Vespero. Cutting back on atypical instruments like violin and flute, the Russians rely this time on a straightforward rock instrumentation. Apart from an accordion featured on the album’s last track, we get only guitar, synthesizers, bass, drum and vocals. The band has basically still the same line-up, and it shows that they are growing together as a collective. The rhythm section is not just functional but also playful. The guitar has a lot of room to enchant with magnificently complex riffs and solos, and the warm synthesizer sounds take care to build a counterweight to the six-stringer. Above all this trumps the mesmerising voice of Natalya Tujrina that switches between regular vocal delivery and occasional spine shivering screams.

The album may have seven tracks, but Surpassing All Kings feels more like a fifty-five minute long sonic journey, with an incredible flow hardly witnessed in such complex music. Vespero are deeply rooted in early British psychedelic rock. But they take care to add complex rhythms and splendid interplaying between guitar and keyboard that remind of Seventies progressive rock. Add occasional jazzy atmospheres that seem to be taken straight out of Canterbury, and the final result sound like Hatfield and the North jamming with Gong with a superb vocalist that neither of those legendary bands ever had.

If Rito was already quite an excellent album, Surpassing All Kings has turned out not even better, but might very well be the best album released so far on their label. The warm production, courtesy of Alisa Coral (Space Mirrors, Psi Corps), furthermore helps to create an authentic Seventies aura, but Vespero feel at no time like mere revivalists. Instead they recreate an organic progressive psychedelic sound that sets them on the same level as the artists who have inspired them. Russian music may still be quite an overlooked thing in Western Europe, but if you want to lay your hands on a really good piece of structured free-form music, this is definitely the place to start!

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