- In the middle of the 80s an enormous number of domestic heavy metal bands
came to stage. We could say it was the first wave of Russian Heavy

- I just dont know I feel nostalgic about those years. Back then we had
to constantly be on our toes we always had some committees or
administrators getting in our way. There was this wall that messed with
our lives, but our lives were interesting. Right now the wall is gone,
and it is not clear what to do next All people want nowadays is to make
some money and retire Some still have their drive, their energy, but
life gets more and more difficult. Apathy is everywhere
From a 1992 interview with Valery Kipelov, Arias
Now, in 1999, seven years, two full albums and several independent
projects later, Aria is still going strong, filling up the largest stadiums
and arenas, and selling out practically every concert.
It all started back in 1984, when Vladimir Holstinin, a lead guitar
player for a group called ALFA decided that he wanted to play something
heavier and left the group in search of others who shared his views. With
the help of Alexandr Granovsky, an old friend and a base player, and a
lucky meeting with Vladimir Vekshtein who agreed to become their manager, a
new group was born. Finding a worthy vocalist was only a matter of time.
It did not take too long, since the very first candidate won everybodys
affections. It was Valery Kipelov, a former vocalist for a band called
Leisja Pesnja. With Aleksandr Lvov at the drums and Cyrill Pokrovsky at
the keyboards the fist album named Megalomania was recorded in 1985. The
group called themselves Aria, which bore a hidden challenge, since the
musicians and the fans alike called themselves arians a name
displeasing to the authorities at the time[2]. Despite such a name, the
group never associated itself with nazi-type outlook on life.
The communists did not even allow printing posters with the bands
name, but despite the lack of publicity the first album was a hit. It
showed the need for heavy metal in the Soviet Union, the unwillingness of
young men and women to follow communist propaganda, to listen to the
popular music they were presented with on the radio and TV. They were
willing to risk their futures and freedoms to live the life they wanted.
The tension around Aria was growing, and it turned into a riot at the very
first concert of the band in February of 86, when 40 people ended up in
jail. But that was only the beginning. At the Rock-Panorama festival
same year someone spilled water on the electrical equipment during the
bands performance. The music had to stop for almost an hour, but no one
from the audience left. Aria was named the winner of the festival, despite
lousy sound and lack of special effects due to water damage. Melodia
the official recording studio in USSR later released LPs recorded at the
festival Arias performance was not included on the LPs. Due to that
incident, the poets at that time refused to write lyrics for Aria,
presuming that none of Arias future songs would ever be recorded. In
spite of the future looking glum, the band continued touring and getting
enormous audiences everywhere it went.
At the end of 1986 after recording the next album (Whom Are You
With?) disagreements caused the band to split, leaving only Kipelov and
Holstinin as members of Aria. Alex Granovsky led the others to create a
band called Master, which focused on playing trash metal, while Aria
continued to play the melodic heavy metal of their idol, Iron Maiden. The
album was named after one of the songs, but the name also signified the
break, leaving the fans with a choice to make.[3]
Despite the loss of the larger part of the band, its spirit was still
strong. About half a year after the break, the new band released a
fantastic album Hero of Asphalt. The words for this album were finally
written by a professional poet, Margarita Pushkina, whose lyrics enhanced
and empowered the band's music. The album is still considered one of their
best, and the songs that comprised it are played at every concert. Unlike
the first two albums, this one was released on an LP rather than on tape.
The communists finally recognized the band and LP release was official.
However, they renamed the album without ever consulting the band (the
original album name was same as one of the songs -- Serving Evil Forces)
to make it less offensive. Also, they chose not to pay the musicians a
For two years after the release of Hero of Asphalt Aria was on
tour, going from city to city in Russia, as well as the satellite
countries. However, when an invitation came in 1988 to go to the Capital
Radio festival in London, the government informed the festival authorities
that the band did not perform live. They were clearly threatened by the
effect the band might have on the opinion of the West, as well as the
satellites, by going to an international music festival.
Same year the first music video got filmed for the song Street of
Roses. The filming caused chaos, since instead of having two or three
hundred onlookers, about seven thousand people showed up for the filming;
as a result the musicians were practically torn to pieces by the adoring
fans that wanted to get close to their idols. The musicians and the
administrations learned a lesson in popularity, and the video took the
number one spot in the rating.
In the summer of the same year, Aria finally went abroad to Germany,
where the musicians got an invitation to the Days of the Wall festival,
where they surprised everybody with their music and won the sympathy of the
Around the same time the band's manager, whose outstanding leadership
took the band past all the barricades built by communists, suddenly lost
interest in the group. He told the band that their music was loosing
popularity, that they should try to give as many concerts as possible and
retire. He insisted that there was no need to work on a new album. The
lack of productivity and the uncertainty of tomorrow took its toll; the
drummer, Maksim Udalov, left for a band called Zenitsa Oka. Aleksandr
Manjakin took his place. In the fall the band was forced to retire its
manager, since the musicians were not ready to give up what they have so
hard worked for. Their next album titled Playing with Fire was released
the following spring. Margarita Pushkina became the official writer for
the band, Yury Fishkin became the manager.
Another long tour followed, with visits to Germany, where the group
lost its guitar and base players to a local band. Their places were
.. !!!!!