Yav’s debut album ”By the Freedom’s Echo” didn’t convince me in the beginning, but multiple listenings - which is something that I fortunately do with every album I review - made me find the band’s own identity and realize that the album is a rather good take on heathen folk / black metal, not a mere copy of others, even if the influence of other similar Eastern European acts is still very clear.
Technically, the album is very well done. The interplay between rhythm and lead guitars works like a charm and all in all, the whole ”By the Freedom’s Echo” is executed with fairly precise professionalism: the drums are handled very tightly - even the fastest bursts of double kicks - and basically the compositions just flow because the album sounds like its creators weren’t hindered by any lack of musicianship. Production deserves a mention too: it verges on something fairly polished yet still retaining an enough raw touch (though I wouldn’t mind if it was a bit rougher) so the album is easy to enjoy.
Yav’ is often labelled as symphonic and this is indeed true, so that some might be put off due to the very melodic nature of ”By the Freedom’s Echo”, but usually the synths are mixed relatively low. It is only the occasional fast keyboard melodies, similar to Goatmoon’s ”Alone”, that really rise distinctly to the listener’s ears. Otherwise, guitars - as well as flutes - are in more prominent role in Yav’s both uplifting and wistful melodies.
Tracks like ”Патриот / Patriot” and ”Пробуждение / Awakenings” are of high quality and the rest of the album doesn’t come far behind. I’m not the biggest fan of cover songs and this album provides two of them, but I’m unfamiliar with the original versions and these covers fit well to Yav’s style, so I’ve got no problem with them; quite the opposite, as the Kolovrat cover ”Знак судьбы / Symbol of Fate” is another highlight of the album, in fact. ”By the Freedom’s Echo” might not be the most original release in this field, but surely recommendable for those who are generally interested in heathen folk metal and black metal from Eastern Europe.