(All Album Reviews by BrianG)
Zyle Kukly is a very talented Russian folk-rock band with connections to Israel. At the End of Days was recorded in Jerusalem in 2005 - 2006. The band relies heavily on traditional Russian and Israeli musical themes, but also works hard to get out the word of their devotion to supporting understanding between cultures of the future. Translations of some of the tracks help them get out the word out, as in the lyrics from the track "Strange Tomorrow" -
"I will sing you the songs of my country.
You won't understand a sound, but you will hear.
We are of different blood, but our fate is the same."
"Mad Theatre" starts out with the drumbeat of "Don't You Wish Your Girfriend Was Hot Like me . . ." then mixes Asian flute parts over Europop synths. In fact about half the songs are more like synth-heavy Euro pop than any resemblance to a folk tradition. Others seem based on Russian and East European tradition of major / minor folk songs. They might be trying to imitate Jethro Tull's success with English folk music with Russian and Israeli folk music.
However, during "Mad Theatre" and especially in "Strange Tomorrow", the limitations of the vocalist come to the fore. Sometimes a folky recording can use folk music as an excuse for poor singing (Bob Dylan link here) but the other redeeming factors of Zyle Kukly are not present. Luckily, intriguing instrumentation using flutes, percussion and other stringed instruments are used in complex arrangements with counterpoint melodies and interesting vocal combinations using the very beautiful operatic voice of Natasha Belenkaya-Greenberg. For me, the acoustic instrumentation was used too sparingly.
By the time of "Babylon Is Doomed", I was cueing Doctor Zhivago to arrive on the scene with bells on his sleigh and orchestral background music rising through the snow. "Star Path" uses heavy pipe organ segueing into a rock band to sound like Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Although the short instrumental interludes are magnificent, and there are moments of real instrumental enjoyment, this type of Euro folk-pop is best when sticking closer to its roots and worst when trying to be a dance band.