Efes introduced me to his project, FS Projekt, via email. The package included all six of the projekt's "releases" if you could call them that. There is a heavy influence from modern European Power Metal. This falls somewhere between Rhapsody and Blind Guardian with a smattering of crap like Finntroll or something. When it comes to the European side of things, it's all kind of a blurred bunch of crud to me. All the instrumentation is well performed by the group with Efes on bass and guitars. The material sent contained a handful of singles and single song releases, so I'll focus on the two longer EPs, Rozhdeniye Maga and Garpiya (The Harpy). I will note that the most recent tracks, particularly "Kredo Tvoyo" is much less 'fantasy' sounding with double bass and modern metal sounding rhythmic verses more akin to a band like Meshuggah than the European Power Metal scene.
Rozhdeniye Maga's three tracks account for thirteen minutes of symphonic European Power metal. The overall impression: underwhelming. The tracks lack the heaviness and aggressiveness which I feel is necessary even in material with a more symphonic nature. For example, listening to a band such as Battleroar on their album Blood of Legends puts the lack of power into focus. There isn't a huge difference in ultimate style; both bands focus on melody, are at times upbeat, and have moments of orchestration. At times, FS Projekt incorporates too much instrumentation into the arrangements. The songs are not long, and do not require so much to maintain interest.
This isn't to say that FS Projekt doesn't hit some positive moments on Rozhdeniye Maga. Oleg Mishin's vocals are actually quite impressive throughout and would not be out of place over something more gritty, as he has been touched with some sand in his throat. "Lyod (Ice)" is an example of this ability but the best track on this EP is "Fingolfin," which is noticeably darker, and more narrative sounding that the other two offerings. The more cimmerian melodies coupled with faster drumming presents the material here as more urgent and important. There's some interesting composition ideas, such as backing choruses, keyboard solos, and some authoritative almost spoken sections. There was no indication that there would be much difference between Rozhdeniye Maga and Garpiya (The Harpy), however expectations do not always yield reality.
Garpiya (The Harpy), is much harder sounding and much more metallic. Even after only a two year difference between the two EPs, Efes managed to concentrate on the elements that were missing and produce a strong release in the European Power Metal style. I would expect Garpiya capable of gaining widespread appreciation. "Shest Strun (Six Strings)" would not be out of place if it were to appear on a Battleroar or even some Edguy albums. The focus is more on the guitars and particularly the bass, which is prominent and is in itself interesting while following the guitar. It has that clunky, trebley bounce which is common in so much of the European Folk Metal. The keyboards and orchestration is still there, but has taken a back-seat and acts more as an accent to the compositions. Oleg's vocals are still very good as well. All lyrics are in Russian, which may prove to pigeonhole the band unnecessarily.
Song-wise, Garpiya's three tracks are all worthy of listening. "Garpiya" sets the tracks off with an energy which was missing on earlier material. "Shest Strun" is the highlight with a huge melody poured over the meat and potatoes of the track. Were it in English, the chorus would influence many to sing along, myself included. The instrumental section could be better, in my opinion, but it doesn't harm the track in any way. "Bagroviy Parus (The Crimson Sail)" is the longest of the three tracks but continues with much of the same stylistic integrity. Oleg's vocals are quite strong throughout this track. For someone that can't for the life of me voice an alveolar trill, to hear it so clearly performed in a heavy metal framework by a competent singer is a real treat.
While it's unfortunate the the following material from FS Projekt did not proceed with the heaviness and metallic force of Garpiya, the three songs from this unheard of projekt are worth their weight, and definitely a must hear for fans of European Power Metal and Symphonic Power Metal. It's not that there isn't more technically sophisticated and complex material out there. Plenty of bands rub themselves off all over their records like some pubescent teenager with his first porno mag. Efes and his band, however, wrote three good songs that don't need all the guitar wankery.
What I liked a lot about Garpiya is that, though capable, FS Projekt seem to have focused more on presenting strong and enjoyable compositions and arrangements. Ultimately, I think that is what most listeners want to hear. The mix, somewhat lopsided on the previous material, was honed here to support a more powerful and worthy trio of songs. I'd be really interested to hear the band return to this style, from the more modern metal of the two more recent singles which are all over the place in styles, ranging from metal, hardcore, tango, djent, etc. It's impressive in one sense, but it also doesn't come close to being as memorable as the Garpiya tracks or as enjoyable for someone into more traditional and old school Heavy Metal.