December 4, 2021 IGNEA & ERSEDU- Bestia (EP Review)
Good friends can inspire one another to such great heights. Such is the case of Ukraine’s IGNEA and ERSEDU, two phenomenal talents that came together to deliver the Bestia EP back on October 21, 2021.
A conceptual work of art, Bestia was born of the decade-long friendship between the two Ukrainian bands. Together, the musicians explore mythological creatures alongside human nature, allowing the two distinct entities to serve as a mirror for the duality of our own world. In fact, in their mother tongue, “Bestia” translates to both beast and imp—one a savage creature and the other a mischievous being.
To illustrate these tales and connect the dots of this duality, the friends united to author the 6-song EP. Containing three tracks from IGNEA and two tracks from ERSEDU, along with an epic instrumental finale, it all kicks off with Helle Bogdanova (vocals), Yevhenii Zhytniuk (keyboards), Xander Kamyshin (bass), Ivan Kholmohorov (drums), and Dmitry Vinnichenko (guitars)—best known as IGNEA. Cryptic Rock magazine is happy to say that when the quintet first appeared on our pages back in March 2017, as our Developing Artist for the month, we predicted a bright future, and four years later, the Melodic Metal outfit from Kiev continues to stun.
Pulling back the velvet curtains on Bestia, they open with the majestic first notes of “Bosorkun.” Cinematic in its approach to storytelling, the larger-than-life track is based around the mythological creature of its title: a villainous mountain spirit who kills with the power of the wind and casts drought and disease. However, instead of choosing to exploit the nefarious aspects of their main character, the band paints their anti-hero as a complex beast with a contradictory manner; kind but destructive, he longs for friendship with humans.
A quintet on fire, IGNEA does not pause as Bogdanova’s vocals immediately caress their second offering, “Magura’s Last Kiss.” Sung from the viewpoint of the titular character, a Slavic Valkyrie and daughter of the Thunderer Perun, it allows Magura to relate her need for peace as well as to detail the assistance she provides to the fallen. As the epic rages, her wings shadow the battlefield as we find her lips pressed to each soldier’s, inviting their passage into Vyriy, “the heavenly place for eternal life.” The ability for those entrenched in war to champion peace, IGNEA shows us, is its own form of bravery.
In the third act, IGNEA is joined by ERSEDU as the two groups explore the concept of mavkas, or sirens, who fail to find their place on the shore or in the water. A balalaika sets the tone for the aptly titled “Mermaids,” where, just like humans, the sirens grow bored when life is in perfect harmony (just like the chorus!). Here, the story of the mavka, illustrated in vivid sonic layers, mirrors that of humanity: where our travails are, more often than not, born of self-induced ennui and melancholy.
This thought echoes through our minds as the lush blending of Symphonic Death Metal and noir cinematics known as ERSEDU takes center-stage. Worshipping the darkness, they invite a susurrating mist to crawl from the oubliette of “Black Garden.” With ominous intentions emanating from every pore, they narrate the story of Zmiy, the Ukrainian dragon. Empowered to destroy, but also to save humanity from disaster, the folkloric creature plays at seduction, inspiring one girl’s nightmare.
A foreboding sense of doom weighs heavy in ERSEDU’s work, and this gorgeously macabre poetry continues into “The Eaters of the Sun.” With all of its massive layers of sound, the song shrinks the idea of the never-ending battle of darkness and light down into one perfect homage to the dichotomies inherent in our world. Ultimately, they remind us that it is necessary to accept both the angel and the devil into our worlds, as each is required to create a rational balance.
Ultimately, we are gifted a grand finale symphony (“The Symphony of Bestia”) that takes flight into magical realms. An instrumental composition of the magnitude of such greats as Hans Zimmer or John Williams, the piece is an exquisite display of musicianship that takes listeners on a nearly 16-minute ride through the fantastical soundscapes of each of its preceding five tracks, from “Bosorkun” to “The Eaters of the Sun.” From the balalaika of “Mermaids” and beyond, every note is perfectly placed for artistic emphasis.
With its folklore providing thoughtful reflections on the human condition, Bestia serves as a masterwork of art as well as insightful commentary. Throughout the collection, the combined force of IGNEA and ERSEDU is show-stopping, as their ability to work in harmony with one another accentuates their individual strengths beautifully. For one, it is the undeniably infectious choruses and their soaring delivery, and for the other it is the funereal embrace of antiquity that thrums through every passionate note. Either way the wind blows, the listener is offered an exceptional viewpoint that furthers the conceptual heart of this collection. Which is why Cryptic Rock joyfully gives the Bestia EP 5 out of 5 stars.