Russia is the largest country in the world, occupying a whooping one-eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land area. It’s evident to even the most unaware that Russia has a huge hardcore, punk and metal scene going on for years, but to write about it is a challenging task for anyone.
From the capital Moscow to the coldest and most remote regions like Yakutsk, the DIY scene in Russia is growing exponentially as we speak. Since the beginning of 2018 there has been an ever-increasing number of new bands in a myriad of styles that continue to amaze right up to the new 2019.
Moscow’s band Reka was a great inspiration to me for the past few years, so I’m always thrilled to find about new Russian bands in the realms of post-hardcore, post-metal, screamo, crust, doom, sludge and even weird sub-genres like blackgaze.
All the bands you’ll find below are included based on my own personal findings as I don’t pretend to be that knowledgeable about the Russian scene at all. Many thanks to Ivan Tokarev for updating my initial information and guiding me inside the huge scene in Russia. For the record, I don’t speak Russian, so I’m sorry for any mistakes I made.
Beware! The Russians are coming…
Ypres is a post-metal band based in St. Petersburg that blends doom-laden, elongated post-rock compositions with atmospheric black metal elements. They have these crushing riffs that could move mountains and roaring vocals to summon ethereal demonic entities. The band is still making everything strictly following the do-it-yourself ethos but they have the potential to become as huge as any band on Metal Blade, Prosthetic or whatever big metal label right now. At the moment, Ypres are part of the Ohm Collective and local DIY label Towner Records.
St. Petersburg’s WOWOD is the heaviest snowstorm to come from Russia this Winter. Their first release surfaced in December 2017 but they’ve released several EPs since then, currently planning a 2019 tour with Ypres. The four-tracks on their latest “Zemlya” EP are bounded to the concept of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Using the atmospheric black metal formula, WOWOD have created a distinct atmosphere of bleak and intensely unsettling vibe on this release. However, I’m sure their magnum opus is still yet to come.
Moscow’s blackened screamo outfit Minaret formed in 2011 but gained a well-deserved international recognition just recently. Their dark, technical and political take on offbeat hardcore punk culminated in the tape release “XX” in 2018. The music ranges from the explosive emo-violence of bands like Orchid to brooding black metal and grind influences with a solid wall of noise and feedback not unlike Full of Hell. On “XX” Minaret hearken back to the pre-revolutionary times in Tsarist Russia at the turn of the 20th century, exploring the role that anarchists and other anti-authoritarians, like the Krondstadt rebels, have had on the historical events at the time.
4 Хвойная Вязь
Karelian trio Хвойная Вязь formed around 2014 and play melodic hardcore with an emotional touch ala Touché Amoré. In 2016 they’ve released “Поволока” LP and, if you speak Russian, you’ll find the poignant poetry in their lyrics that revolve around hopelessness, loneliness and the inner struggle to break free from our own prison of thoughts and materialist longings. The band is currently on hiatus but they are not dead yet and will hopefully come back to record some new material in the future. All three members play in other bands such as Deathtemple, Footstep, and Вепсская Миля.
Moscow’s drunk squad Fatum are veterans in the Russian crust scene and their 2018’s “Edge of the Wild” LP was among the world’s best stenchcore albums of the year. Their music is heavily inspired by the mid to late 80s sound of British bands like Deviated Instinct, Antisect, and Prophecy of Doom. Crushing metallic riffs, dirty bass lines and pounding drums are the order of the day in Fatum’s metal punk crusade.
6 Distant Abuse
Formerly known as Travolta but recently changing their name to Distant Abuse, these guys play some fast crustcore with a cannonade of d-beats atop. It seems the crust genre is not very popular in Russia at the moment. Longstanding d-beat bands like Distress haven’t been releasing new material for a long time and I don’t know much about any other bands at the moment. So kudos to Distant Abuse for keeping this music alive.
Chaotic grinding violence from St. Petersburg with a superb production. Miroed is a band that will blow your socks out with their fierce take on grindcore, technical death metal and gnarly hardcore punk. Highly recommended listening for fans of Graf Orlock, Cloud Rat, Dragged Into Sunlight, etc.
8 Улыбайся Ветру
Улыбайся Ветру is probably the most well-known Russian emo band in mainland Europe and the States right now. Still, they are not even the least popular outside of the small emo-violence cult within the DIY scene. If they were not coming from Russia, I think they would probably become as big and followed as Birds In Row or Loma Prieta at the moment. Улыбайся Ветру’s new record “Иллюзии” (Illusions) is painstakingly fantastic and there’s no doubt you should be aware of this band in 2019.
Saint Petersburg’s Ревность released an absolutely crushing self-titled record in 2018. In its six tracks that are over in less than 15 minutes, they waste no time to deliver their strikes of raw, impassioned skramz. Along with the aforementioned Улыбайся Ветру, this was one of my DIY highlights of the past year. Many of the better known emo / screamo bands from Russia—from Marschak to состояние птиц and Причал—are no longer around in 2019, but there’s always some newer band that will make an incredible record to blow your mind.
10 Call us Колос
Call us Колос is an experimental emo band from St. Petersburg. They play a stripped-down lo-fi emo punk mixed with acoustic / folk flutters kinda like Die, Emperor! Die! All three members have played or still play in other bands like COASTA, Belies, По Небу Полуночи, and Massa Amanto.
Tõll is a promising doom metal band from St. Petersburg that released their first demo in 2018. This one is grim, thick and heavy. Highly recommended for fans of Windhand, Whitehorse or Noothgrush.
Pressor is a stoner / sludge / doom metal band from the city of Kostroma. These stoned Russian lumberjacks know how to make super-heavyweight riffs with an absolute precision and transcend the metal boundaries with some spellbinding synth-ambient soundscapes atop.
St. Petersburg’s atmospheric doom punk trio Колчак haven’t released anything new for quite some time but hopefully the band is still active and will make a great soundtrack for the cold winter days. Reminiscent to the early Deafheaven, Колчак are setting the pace with cascading octave chords, pummeling black metal influences and dreamy shoegaze melodies woven into their instrumental music, while keeping the tracks as short as your average punk-rock song.
Named after the immortal character of Russian fairy tales, Kashchey is a genre defying band from Saint Petersburg to drag you into the deeper realms of your subconscious. Slow, downtrodden doom metal meets shoegaze ambient atmosphere. The repetitive motion is sustained for some time, evoking a meditative mood until otherworldly screams and tense guitar riffs give raise to unsettling death-laden prophecies. Kashchey’s 2018 “Intacta” LP was one of the most interesting sludge / doom / post-metal releases of the year.
Last on this list, but still one of my absolute favorites! Materic is a post-hardcore band from Petrozavodsk that came into the light of day in 2014 when they’ve released the fantastic “Меж каменных плит” LP. The record was followed by a European tour in 2015 and I still remember their kick-ass gig with Sweden’s No Omega in my town. According to my friends in Russia, the band is still active and slowly taking their time to craft even more incredible songs for a new record. It gives me shivers how amazing that would be!
Just take a look at their live from Troyka Fest in 2015… Wow!