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The story of hardcore in Russia is waiting to be told to the West. In the middle of declining relations between the two countries and a maze of alliances and opposition between the leaders of the United States and current Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, the young musicians of Vorvaň collaborated with a who’s-who of metallic hardcore mainstays for their debut record Once Love Was Lost. It’s a minor miracle that this kind of transatlantic and transpacific partnership exists.

Kurt Ballou of Converge mixed the record while Brad Boatright of From Ashes Rise mastered the damn thing. Jack Shirley, the producer of Deafheaven and Crowhurst, recorded additional tracks, presumably guest vocals by Meghan O'Neil Pennie of Punch. Armin Schweiger of Afgrund also takes a turn behind the mic.

In spite of all those more well-known names, the core members of Vorvaň put on the best performances. Vocalist and guitarist Eli Mavrychev roars with the consistency of an industrial timber saw, but his riffs careen between Discharge-ish crust and more meditative, melodic fare, such as already-released song “Sirens”. In these moments Vorvaň remind me a little of Burst and, by extension, Gojira. No surprise, then, that the band name is Russian for sperm whale.

Tensions between Russia and the States are at a thirty-year high. Maybe nothing will come of it, but maybe records like Once Love Was Lost are about to become more rare, rather than more common. If that’s the case, I will remember this album as a tease of a future that might be, where Russian metallic hardcore made in part in America develops a dedicated enough audience to bring Vorvaň to a stage near me. Optimistically, though, maybe I’ll just remember it as a good album.

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Once Love Was Lost is out on 10/14 via WOOAAARGH records.

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