Rainbows in the Dark: Russkaja — “Turbo Polka Party”

If I look back on it, maybe even without realizing it, two people that have had a profound impact on who I am as a person would be my grandma and Weird Al Yankovic.  The one and only thing that unites them is their love of polka, and I remember showing my grandma Weird Al, thinking she would be blown away; she aggressively didn’t get it, and it’s hard to separate the music from the parody, but when you do, you find that the punky polka is the best part of Weird Al’s discography.  On Turbo Polka Party, Russkaja embrace the fusion of bouncy polka bops and ska-punk for the final time in their eighteen year career.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Veliu Namai — “Alkai”

What do you think of when you think of the Baltics?  Perhaps it’s lush fields, maybe towering mountains or pristine seaside hamlets?  Maybe it’s cities older than my country, rich with history and culture both familiar and foreign?  Maybe it’s all of that, or none.  I’m willing to bet, though, that it’s probably not what you hear when you throw on Veliu Namai’s Alkai, but maybe it should be.  On their fourth full length release, the Lithuanian trio dive deeper into the history and mysticism surrounding their Baltic heritage, all the while stretching the limits of what they can do musically.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Ian’s Best of 2022

Best of 2022

Wow, it really has been a while since I’ve visited this column, huh?  Things got really busy really fast over here, and it’s kinda hard to sit and write two articles a week when life is finally starting to pick up.  However, the tunes did not stop this year, and some of my favorite and most anticipated releases this year were from more than just the metal world.  It’s my pleasure to bring you another year of the best of all things metal-adjacent and non-metal.  Any of these albums can stand up to the world of buzzsaw guitars, blast beats and screamed vocals.  Maybe not in terms of sheer force, but in terms of emotional depth and good times, absolutely.  Without further ado, here we go:

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Rainbows in the Dark: Nytt Land — “Ritual: Blood of the West”

Russian group Nytt Land’s body of work tends to evoke frozen images of their Siberian home. Songs echo the icy landscapes of the tundra while vocals from Natalya Pakhalenko mirror the howling wind of a blizzard. Guitars and synths only add to the cold and empty feeling of their songs. Desolate is a word that frequently comes to mind listening to their music. On their new EP Ritual: Blood of the West though, the band changes their sound to visit a different barren landscape, the desert. On this EP, Nytt Land transform a few songs from their album Ritual into more traditional Western European and American song structures without losing their shamanic power.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Drowse — “Wane into It”

Content warning for what lies ahead: we’re going to be talking about death, suicide and addiction quite a bit in the lines that follow.  If you’re not comfortable with that, no worries, see you in the next one, but it is very hard to talk about Drowse and their third album on the venerable Flenser Wane into It without mentioning the heartache, loss and lingering uncertainty that went into this three-year journey.  For those tuning out, I’ll leave you with my abridged thoughts up front: Wane into It is a heartbreakingly real, achingly emotional ride that is really not to be missed.

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