An unrelenting, wild ride through everything that makes Slavic pagan metal amazing, Масленица Широкая (Maslenitsa Shirokaya) is one of the finest songs in the entire genre. Anyone familiar with Russian pagan metal gods Pagan Reign should find the sound entirely familiar. When Pagan Reign broke up in 2006, Твердь (Tverd’) formed from the ashes. Guitarist Vetrodar and drummer Demosthen were the only returning members, but stylistically Tverd’s only album to date, Вслед за Солнцеворотом (Vsled Za Solntsevorotom), is such a direct continuation that it would be hard to understand Tverd’ as anything but a legitimate continuation of Pagan Reign. Even the band’s name is the title to Pagan Reign’s final album. It is also a reference, I would imagine, to their hometown Tver, just north of Moscow.
The quality of this song is just impeccable. It carries all of the epic glory of Pagan Reign’s Новгородские Пляски (Novgorodian Folk Dance), but with a more mature approach to the madness and the addition of a fantastic vocal performance by Svetlana Lebedeva. The song is structured, much like Novgorodian Folk Dance, to eschew standard composition and confront the listener with one bombastic movement after another, thriving in a state of constantly progressing triumphant climax. It lacks all of the frustration and anger that so many Slavic bands reflect in their recognition that the culture they’re preserving exists only in scattered embers. Maslenitsa Shirokaya is a pure celebration with no baggage. Cheers.