For those of you of a certain age (probably about 40 and older) who grew up in a certain part of the globe (Western Europe and the US and Canada), you remember the us-versus-them of the Cold War. There was still a Berlin Wall, and NATO troops faced those of the Warsaw Pact in a passive-aggressive stand-off. Nuclear annihilation was a distinct possibility, and we all just kind of accepted it and went on about our business. But there was always that strange fascination with the USSR and the other communist nations of Eastern Europe, that the people lived similar yet very different lives from us, a certain sense of “otherness”.
Sometime during high school in the late 1980s I found a copy of the Red Wave compilation, a collection of rock songs from four different Russian bands. The music was allegedly smuggled out of Leningrad and brought to the west, where of course someone made some money off of it. But the idea that there were some rock bands trying to keep it real in the face of some pretty long odds and in the face of government oppression was fascinating to me. Even though the wall came down and Cold War is technically over (unfortunately today the saber-rattling is just as real) and our Russian friends live lives much more similar to our own, though also quite different in many ways, I still have that strange fascination with the people and their society. That’s why this copy of the 1987 metal album Демон (Demon in English) by the Russian band Август (August) caught my eye the other day over at Daybreak Records. What kind of metal was being made in Russia before the fall of communism?
It turns out it’s a bit of metal-lite. But we have to keep in mind this was the 1980s, so in many ways Демон resembles many of the other mainstream acts of the era, bands like Scorpions and Whitesnake and Dokken. Sometimes it rocks out like on “Ночь”, while at others it drifts into the soaring types of ballads so popular in the day, with the lonely, searching guitars and chimes on “Осень”. If you like your metal 80s style, you’ll likely enjoy Демон, if for no other reason than it’s an intriguing cultural artifact.
The band is still alive and well as near as I can tell, and they even have all the songs from Демон posted for you to listen to HERE.