With a career that will soon be entering its third decade, Aria have to be one of Russia's oldest and longest-running heavy metal bands. They are also among the most popular, even though poor distribution of their records, and their insistence on singing almost exclusively in their native tongue, has made it difficult for international audiences to discover the group. Formed in the pre-glasnost days of the early '80s by guitarist Vladimir Holstinin and singer Valery Kipelov, Aria released their first eponymous album in 1985. Along with much of their subsequent output — including 1986's Whom Are You With?, 1987's Hero of Asphalt, and 1989's Play With Fire — the band displayed a strong (some would say excessive) Iron Maiden influence, and, except for long-tenured bassist Vitaly Dubinin, featured an ever-rotating lineup of supporting musicians.
The group's career slowed down somewhat during the 1990s, with numerous live albums and a "best-of" release intercalating occasional studio LPs like 1991's Blood for Blood, 1995's Night Is Shorter Than Day, and 1998's Generator of Evil. Aria's momentum only picked up again in 1999, when they struck an unusual promotional agreement with motorcycle manufacturers Harley-Davidson that yielded the Tribute to Harley-Davidson EP. Chimera (2001), Steel (2002), and Christening By Fire (2003), the latter album introducing new vocalist Artur Berkut, second guitarist Sergey Popov, and drummer Maxim Udalov, followed in short order, clearly suggesting that Aria will be cranking out albums for quite a while still. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia