Aria (Ария) is a Russian, formerly Soviet, Heavy Metal band founded in Moscow in 1985. It is one of the most influential bands in Russian Metal, and its former musicians also founded several popular bands, such as Кипелов and Мастер. Aria's music is influenced by the NWOBHM bands.
For the first time ARIA established itself as a band by releasing their first album in autumn of 1985. The album sounded very professional and looked like nothing performed in the USSR before. The title was modest but pretentious - "Megalomania".
The story began in 1984 when lead guitarist Vladimir Holstinin left a band called Alpha, which music was not tough enough for him. Wishing to form his on band he was soon followed by bass player Alik Granovsky and in the beginning of 1985 they meet Victor Vekshtein - the manager of VIA "Poyushiye Serdtsa" (VIA - the USSR-stage specific abbreviation standing for Vocal & Instrumental Ensemble; Poyushie Serdtsa can be translated as "Singing Hearts"). When Vekshtein heard first "metal" riffs he decided to became manager of the new band. Search for a vocalist didn't take much time. The first candidate was found suitable in all aspects. His name was Valery Kipelov. Shortly after that Vladimir Holstinin offers a name ARIA for the band. The name carried a kind of "hidden sense" cause all musicians and their fans began being called as "Arians" (aria nation people).
There were also other members taking part in the recording of "Megalomania": Alexander Lvov - drums and Kirill Pokrovsky - keyboards. Almost all songs were written by Holstinin and Granovsky; lyrics were by Alexander Elin. All guitars were recorded by Holstinin himself but there was a need for a second guitar player to perform gigs. So the second guitar maestro turned out to be Andrey Bolshakov. And the final line-up change was Igor Molchanov replacing Aleksander Lvov on drums.
Even with absolutely no promotion on TV or in any mass media "Megalomania" got a great response because every gig became almost underground since communists prohibited band name to be printed on posters. Scandal was round the corner and it burst out on the band's first gig in February 1986 organized by Dmitry Shavyrin, the music reviewer of "Moskovsky Komsomolets" ("Moscow member of Komsomol") newspaper. Audience divided in two parts: one talking that "It's a crime against art" and another saying "That's great!". The show ended up with 40 people taken away to the police station. And scandal raged on: at the "Rock-Panorama'86" festival someone threw water onto power cables right during the ARIA set that resulted in a short circuit and a 40-minutes break in a show. But those terrorists failed to achieve their goal cause nobody left the venue patiently waiting the band to continue. More of it - the band became laureates of the festival in spite of the terrible sound after diversion. Later "Melodiya" company released 2 LPs with a recording of that festival but throwing ARIA songs away. Some musicians taking part in that gig started saying that all ARIA is a shame upon all rock-music; well-known rock-poets refused to work with the band: "It's a dead work, all we write for you will go to nowhere. You will play for yourself and a couple of your friends only!" - they were saying to the band.
Meanwhile ARIA was rising up rapidly. Shortly after "Rock-Panorama'86" they went to Vilnius (Lithuania) to perform at "Lituanika-86" fest where they were granted for their professional work on stage. The popularity of the band those times was represented by sold out tickets, completely devastated venues and brawls in the streets after shows. Some regions were closed for the band to perform cause local authorities were very much afraid of destruction. All this was taken care of by the manager Victor Vekshtein who tried to calm the people down each time. But mass-media still had no reflection of the band, except for "Moskovsky Komsomolets" that frequently published its charts where ARIA was present in almost all categories.
During the recording of the second album "Whom Are You With?" ARIA became suffering of musical differences. Bolshakov and Granovsky offered to switch to a more thrashy music but Holstinin and Kipelov remained with the band's own style. That led to split-up followed after very successful sequence of gigs at "Druzhba" venue in January, 1987. So four musicians (Andrey Bolshakov, Alik Granovsky, Kirill Pokrovsky and Igor Molchanov) left ARIA and were replaced by Sergey Mavrin (guitar), Maxim Udalov (drums) and Vitaly Dubinin (bass).
Line-up change worked fine for ARIA cause after 6 months of hard rehearsals the band recorded one of their best albums "Hero Of Asphalt" which included such immortals as "Rose Street" and "Ballad About Ancient Russian Warrior". Unlike first two releases distributed only on tapes, "Hero Of Asphalt" was finally released on LPs by "Melodiya" company (but only in 1988). And there were some problems too: initially album title was "Serving Evil Force" but "Melodiya" changed it (without notifying the band) to "Hero Of A Speedway" which was also a mistake cause the real name of the track was "Hero Of Asphalt". Also name misprintings occurred: so Holstinin was named Valery and Udalov was claimed as Mikhail and "Striker" instead of drummer. Overall sound of LP was much worse than of the original studio tape. But all those troubles didn't make any problems for sales: album sold in more than 1,000,000 copies at first print and became collector's item in one year. Lyrics were written by Margarita Pushkina. One thing to notice is that ARIA received no royalties for the LP since communists considered as a great honour not to pay money to musicians.
After recording ARIA began touring which lasted 2 years and was accompanied with tickets totally sold out, venues totally crushed and parties totally drunk out. In Vologda city during the performance of "Ballad About Ancient Russian Warrior" someone threw a chair leg and hit vocalist Kipelov to his head making him singing something really "censored" instead of some lyrics.
In the beginning of 1988 ARIA got invited to the Capital Radio fest to London. And troubles once again: all official letters from England were replied by Goskontsert (concert organizing company in the USSR) that "band cannot visit your fest". At the same time ARIA was still touring gathering stadiums so the whole situation seemed to be a kind of bullshit. Meanwhile Dmitry Mamatov and Sergey Komarov shot a video for "Rose Street" song which was shown on TV in "Muzykalny Lift" ("Musical Elevator") show. Filming of that video caused a lot of fans coming to see the process. Both the band and organizers didn't expect 7,000 people attacking them having absolutely no security. So after two hours of struggling with the crowd they escaped leaving various parts of their clothes and cars for souvenirs. And that sacrifice was honoured by video taking #1 in "Music Elevator" charts. In winter of the same year ARIA went to Berlin, Germany for their first abroad tour. The band made three gigs there and was invited to the "Days Of Wall" festival that took place in summer 1988. Right before ARIA to play announcer went out to the 120,000 audience and said: "And now - heavy metal from Moscow". Crowd began laughing cause they had recently seen "Avtograf" (Autograph) and "Mashina Vremeny" (Time Machine) and were expecting a kind of that again. The band name and intro of "Santa Lucia" by Robertino Loretti just make them laugh louder… But already after the first song audience changed its mind. When the show was over security head came up to the band and said: "Yesterday on TV I've seen the signing of mid-range missiles elimination agreement and today I saw Russian Iron Maiden. It seems that Perestroyka really comes true in your country". There were as much alcohol drunk for international friendship that nite that nobody could hardly say anything clever until the band returned to Moscow. It could result in custom service problems in Poland where the band was asked "Who are you?" and replied "We are Arians!".
It's interesting that all next tours to Germany were organized by ARIA members themselves without any help of their manager. Conflict closed up. Victor Vekshtein who actually helped the band to live through all troubles began saying that "The band's music became out of fashion and there is no sense to work over the new album; we need to change music". That resulted in Maxim Udalov quitting the band in summer 1988 after tour in Bulgaria. His place was taken by Alexander Manyakin, who shocked the band at audition by playing all songs without any rehearsals.
In November of 1988 ARIA decided to quit relations with their manager Victor Vekshtein and then started recording of their new masterpiece "Play With Fire" songs for which were ready long ago. The new manager Yury Fishkin was a friend of Dubinin and Holstinin who helped them during their Volshebnye Sumerki (Magic Twilight) band era. The new album was released in spring of 1989. Music became more aggressive and dynamic. All music was composed by Holstinin and Dubinin and lyrics written by Margarita Pushkina.
After the new one released the band shot a video for "Dai Zharu!" (title that could be approximately translated as "Kick Some Ass!") directed by Evgeny Pahomenkov and went to a long Germany tour. There on "Rock Summer" fest German TV decided to shoot ARIA gig and pay them for it like it is always made in the whole world. But when band members began dividing 12,000 DM all the money were taken by a suddenly arrived Goskontsert representative which slightly upset the band. Nevertheless the whole tour (through four cities) was very successful. In spring of 1990 Dubinin and Mavrin got signed by some German label to help one female-singer with recording left the band. So the replacements were found in Dmitry Gorbatikov (guitar, ex-Galaktika, ex-Krasnaya Ploshad) and Alexey Bulkin (bass) who became a friend of the band during ARIA's visit to Saransk city in 1986. After month of rehearsals ARIA continued touring and drinking. And guitarist Gorbatikov always confuses other members by being involved in various stories with women, truly justifying his nickname "loverboy".
In August of 1990 being tired of separation Dubinin and Mavrin returned to the band and ARIA played 5 years anniversary celebration gig in DK ZIL venue in October of 1990. The new album "Blood For Blood" was released in autumn '91 and showed the new sounding of the band using guitar synth and acoustic guitars. Lyrics (again by Margarita Pushkina) as always continued eternal struggle of Good and Evil. Album was released on Syntez Records but quality of production and printing was even worse than of Melodiya one.
From 1991 to 1993 ARIA wildly crushed hotel rooms Russia-wide beating ROLLING STONES record by throwing TV set out of the window twice while gigging in Tomsk. In 1993 the band lowered its concert activity as a result of overall chaos in the whole country. At the same time ARIA Records studio was born.
In 1993 ARIA signed a 5-years contract with MOROZ Records. And the results followed almost immediately: all band's 5 albums were released on CDs, including not released before "Megalomania" and "Whom Are You With?", in summer of 1994 and the band began recording of their sixth album. In September having recorded drum tracks ARIA went to Germany for the fourth time gigging in seven cities and at legendary Berlin Hard Rock Cafe. After the show members were informed that they wouldn't get paid since all the money were spent to organize tour. Scandal resulted vocalist Valery Kipelov (worked in a band for 10 years) to leave the band. After returning to Moscow he didn't show himself in the studio and soon was rumored to be gigging with MASTER. Being shocked by such kinda disaster the left members began searching for the new frontman recording instrumental tracks at the same time. And a new impact struck our heroes: guitarist Sergey Mavrin became upset by the whole depressive situation and said he had lost his faith. Then he left… All changes nearly caused the band being dropped by MOROZ Records. But help came in the person of Sergey Terentyev (guitar). He recorded his own solo album at ARIA Studio in summer '94 and remained there drinking his beer and looking at the remains of the band. Having fed up by looking he offered his hand as a session musician, he then played his solos and continued drinking his beer as already a full member of ARIA. But the vocalist problem was unsolved still. Then Alexander Morozov stepped into and told the band that he would never release anything without Kipelov doing vocals. So Kipelov returned and did all vocals for the new "Night Is Shorter Than Day" album which saw the light in the end of 1995.
Besides traditional ARIA hits like "Spirit Of War" and "Angels' Dust" music contained more major moods and the lyrics written by Margarita Pushkina differed a lot from the early ones. They became less pathetic and there were such non-ARIA-like songs like, for example "Go Away And Don't Come Back".
To promote the new one the video for "Take My Heart" was shot by Dmitry Velikanov. A new manager Sergey Zadora gathered a strong administrative group and organized many gigs in Moscow and other cities. During that tour the band celebrated its 10 years anniversary and releases 2CD-Live album "Made In Russia" which unexpectedly took high positions in various charts.
In the beginning of 1997 "MOROZ Records" proposes musiciants to release the best songs from all the band's history in the serie "Russian Rock Legends", which this company releases. The album included such songs as "Rose Street", "Hero Of Asphalt" etc. The song "Give Me A Hand", which was previously released only in first MC-version of "Hero Of Asphalt" album became a bonus-track. Also the album included a booklet with full history of the band, previously unreleased photos. The album was remastered.
In 1997 Summer "arians" dispersed to studios and "independently" created some (actually, there are two of them) solo projects. Vitaly Dubinin and Vladimir Holstinin took part in one of them; another one have been recorded by Valery Kipelov and Aria's ex-guitar player Sergei Mavrin. "Avaria" and "Dark Age", as these projects were named, have been released during the same year's winter and have shown many-sided musiciants' points of view, but team-working was going on and during half of year since 1997 Summer 1997 at "ARIA Records" studio new Aria's masterpiece was created. After long time of doubts about the album's name musiciants stopped on the term "Generator Of Evil". Before releasing the album band is going to visit large number of cities in Russia and ex-USSR; large presentation is planned in Moscow after it.
In the middle of '99th ARIA have released a mini-CD "Tribute To Harley Davidson", which contained both old songs and two cover-versions. As a New Year present to fans, in the end of the year ARIA have released also a compilation "2000 And One Night" - album contained old ballads by the band and two brand-new songs.
The year of 2000 saluted Aria's 15th anniversary. The band is mostly famous by its shows, and it was the reason for their anniversary tour to be such a great present to the band's fans. That was the first time when a headliner of the tour was a Russian band and a legendary German band RAGE was a guest-star. Each of the bands has played great live sets about 90 minutes long. In Moscow a gig had taken place at Ice Palace CSKA which was overcrowded. Now, there is no further doubt that Russian heavy-metal is same-level comparable to the Western bands. The autumn of 2000 had brought another great show of Aria - now in Palace of sports LUZHNIKI.
Less than in half-a year after the triumphal Aria's shows dedicated to the 15th anniversary since the release of the first band's album, Moscow and Saint Petersburg were shaken as the "Arians" have presented their next album with the mystical name "Chimera" (and this time it was a studio album). Though this time the information with many details as to the new masterpiece of the oldest and, for certain, the leading Russian heavy-metal band began to appear in press some months prior to the end of studio work, it hasn't reduce the impatience of the fans, waiting for the album to come out. As "Aria" is not the kind of band to disappoint even the most demanding fans. "Chimera" did not become an exception…
None can say that Aria's manner is being changed vastly in the last years - well, the band are what they've ever been - but the "arians" really adore changing the sound, the arrangements and a rider of some other little improvements, and the band never miss a possibility to try something new. In case with "Chimera" album, the metal legend Udo Dirkschneider's (the ex-member of the great German metal band Accept and now - the leader of U.D.O.) participation in recording of one of the songs became such a feature. To say the truth, you won't hear the famous burger's "ear-tearing" voice - it's sad, but the provisions of the contract sometimes don't allow the use of the musician's own voice and even name, but you can see Udo's face in the video for the song "Calm", where he rests and works together with "Aria", drinks a bit and tries to pronounce Russian words about sailors-cannibals, unknown to him. By the way, last time on "Generator of Evil" the "arians" also let a stranger to be the vocalist, but it was a well-known stranger - it was a bass-guitarist Vitaly Dubinin, who sang one whole song. Besides, this was unusual for Aria's style ballad. In "Chimera" the musicians decided to experiment with overall control over the album's creation - well, it's better to say "the total absence of control". "This album was recorded without any producer's intervention, even in view of that we ourselves were the producers, - explains Vladimir Holstinin. - I mean, each musician worked only on his own songs, including arrangements and lyrics ideas. Also there was no distribution of roles in studio - Terentiev was recording all the guitars only for his songs, and I was only for mine."
From the date of the new album's release the band had some performances - in April there was a tour over the whole country along with U.D.O., the band of legendary German rocker Udo Dirkschneider, and in August the band had participated in the biggest music festival of 2001 Summer "Nashestvie" in Ramenki (not far from Moscow). The gig was seen not only by 100 000 fans, who were right on the field, but also by millions of TV-watchers, who were able to see it on TV6 channel! Of course, ARIA and DDT, as the headliners of the festival were the most interesting for the public and mass-media. - DDT played their set in the end of the festival and Aria had played in the end of the first day. The band was well-prepared for this performance. ARIA's appearance on the stage was accompanied by the great lighting and pyrotechnic effects. But participation in the show of the musicians of International symphonic orchestra "Globalis" became the real the drawing card of the show. Concurring with the orchestra ARIA played "Lost Paradise", "Splinter of Ice" and "Torero".
In the end of September ARIA participated in another festival - "Modernizatsiya" in St.Petersburg. In November the band headed to "shake mountain of Ural and to kindle by it's flaming music the snow of Siberia", as it had been said in advertising on "Nashe Radio" (the informational sponsor of the tour). But the main event of the year 2001 took place on December 1st in Moscow.
The performance that took place in the Palace of Sports Luzhniki on that day (well, actually - on that evening) became the most brilliant and memory-holding music event of the year (at least - on the Russian rock stage) seemingly not only for the band's fans, but also for the "arians" themselves. The promoters were working hard to convince the administration, security and fire-protection service of Luzhniki that dropping even the least element of the show will break the whole concept. Negotiations and approvals of the scene's design and the show's script took not less than a month, but the show was worth it! Generally, the preparation to the show took almost three months as the discussions of the first ideas have started during the trip to St.Petersburg for "Modernizatsiya".
On December 1, 2001 more than ten thousand fans, who filled up the Palace of Sports Luzhniki, as well as millions of TV6-channel watchers (the channel had broadcasted the TV-version of this performance on the same evening) witnessed the real brilliant show. "ARIA" was the first band in our country, who was took the courage to build the stage in the center of the hall, like Paul McCartney and Metallica did before. This allowed to use a huge number of lighting, laser and pyrotechnic effects including live fire and also to add other tints to their music by inviting two percussionists, three back-vocalists, quartet of cellos and even a choir! The "Arians" put their fans in ecstasy once again and shocked "next-to-music" public, who, considering that nobody in Russia had done anything like this, were comparing this performance with fantastic shows of Metallica of the beginning of 90-s and to the fire show of "German steelmakers" - RAMMSTEIN (who played in Moscow not long ago).
In the beginning of November 2002 Aria declared the new line-up: on the drums now sits Maxim Udalov (he's been playing in Aria already once), the new guitarist becomes Sergey Popov (ex-"Master"), new vocalist - Artur Berkut (ex-"Autograph"). Musicians at once started working on a new album.
The ninth Aria studio album "Baptizing By Fire" was released on May, 29. The next page of history of band "ARIA" has opened. Soon after the album was released, the band goes touring with the new program; meanwhile, a new double-CD live album is released. The album features the songs from Aria's show in Luzhniki. The new release is entitled "Searching For A New Victim…" Those are words taken from Aria's song "Vampire" from the Chimera album.
In 2004 Aria released another live double CD and DVD called "Live Fire" which was also recorded in the above-mentioned venue Luzhniki. A little later Aria became winners in the "Concert of the Year" nomination and play at Kremlin Palace in Moscow.
In 2005 Aria celebrated it's 20th anniversary. On this occasion they went on a big tour, for which they recorded a new version of their song "Will And Reason." To do this Aria invited a few of their friends, such as Gleb Samoilov, Vadim Samoilov, Constantine Kinchev, Yuriy Shevchuk, Viacheslav Butusov, and also two former Aria's guitarists, Sergej Mavrin Mavrin and Andrei Bolshakov.
In summer 2006, the band released a new single "Alien" featuring a a self-titled song to be included in the new album. After that Aria went touring taking the name of their yet unreleased new album as a name for their tour. The tenth studio album "Armageddon" was released on September 15 the same year.
The Armageddon tour was over in April of 2007, after which Aria won the Fuzz magazine award as the best live band of 2006. A month later another set of live double CD and DVD "Dance of Hell" hit the stores. In autumn the band went on another tour timed for the twentieth anniversary of their album "Hero of Asphalt."