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Upon reviewing Russkaja's 2013 album, 'Energia!' (somehow, their 2015 release, 'Peace, Love & Russian Roll', slipped my attention), the band were being marketed as purveyors of "Russian Turbo Polka Metal". The band weren't entirely Russian in constitution, the music wasn't performed with a super-speedy, up-tempo dynamic (as you'd expect from something described as "turbo"), and there were only fleeting bursts of heaviness throughout the album, so metal it was not. However, it was an energy-fuelled, entertaining ride that combined polka, ska, reggae, gypsy punk and just a mild sprinkling of metal. Misleading labels aside, they succeeded in forging a potent combo of said genre elements, with a little bit of derangement thrown into the compositional pot (the latter largely due to Georgij Makazaria's delightfully eccentric vocal performance). Four years on, and it's pretty much the same deal with their latest full-length studio effort, 'Kosmopoliturbo'... although they've now sneaked the "turbo" label into the album's name, and press blurb would still have you believe this is "high speed" music. Seriously? Were this bunch previously in an ultra-down-tempo doom band? There are up-tempo compositions, for sure, but none that I'd really describe as "high speed" or "turbo".

'Kosmopoliturbo' is a more refined work than 'Energia!' in all respects. The production and mix, for starters, are incredible. Polished but not over-produced, the music sounds alive and the deranged energy inherent within the compositions is made all the more emphatic. This record sparkles with clarity, sheen and tonal dynamics. And songs now seem to have unique identities so, while it's more of the same, there's also a little diversity between tracks. Cue a drinking anthem in 'Volle Kraft Voraus'; a summer holiday anthem with 'Mare Mare'; a surprisingly touching, feelgood anthem in the form of 'Still in Love'; and batty-as-fuck anthems such as 'Hello Japan' (okay... this one could, perhaps, be construed as "high speed" and "turbo", along with parts of 'Cheburaschka'). And 'Hello Japan' starts off in precisely the same manner as Budgie's 'Breadfan', so there are some classic rock influences that creep in here and there, too.

There's some fantastic musicianship on display... not just individual performances, but in how they've combined their collective talents. The songs sound so utterly 'together'. It's all about the collective, rather than any individual. And, collectively, Russkaja have the entertainment factor; the fun factor; the feel-good factor; and the got-a-fucking-screw-loose factor. Traditional Russian musical idioms combine with ska, reggae, gypsy punk, polka and small bursts of heaviness in the most invigorating of ways. Makazaria's vocals, which are delivered with a serious dose of "R" rolling, fit the music to perfection, with just the right balance between eccentricity and histrionics. He even sounds like he's transformed into Skindred's Benji Webbe in a few places. And he seems to be channelling Elvis during certain passages of 'Send You an Angel'.

All in all, 'Kosmopoliturbo' is not the all-out batshit assault you might be expecting... it's more about controlled madness within some finely crafted compositions and arrangements. But, it is a vastly entertaining record and the perfect soundtrack for what remains of the summer.
Napalm Records
Review by Mark Holmes
4th August 2017
1) Hey Road
2) Alive
3) Still in Love
4) Hello Japan
5) Volle Kraft Voraus
6) Mare Mare
7) Cheburaschka
8) La Musica
9) Chef De Cuisine
10) Send You An Angel
"...collectively, Russkaja have the entertainment factor; the fun factor; the feel-good factor; and the got-a-fucking-screw-loose factor."