Mariesena: existential Ukrainian screamo  



There’s a video on YouTube where Mariesena, a screamo band from Ukraine, plays a cover of Orchid’s “…And The Cat Turned To Smoke” live in their hometown Odessa, on the Black Sea. The song is a classic that fans know, but the reaction of the crowd is not what an American or European screamo lover would expect: the audience sang, cried, desperately held their heads, and comforted each other while falling on their knees.

It’s not a parody nor a meme, but one way to show dedication to a genre that has developed quite a cult following in some ex-USSR countries. While foreign bands are rather worshiped here, the local scenes in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia are alive and well, delivering several interesting emo and screamo bands every year. Mariesena is one of them, and a great starting point for those who want to dig in these unexplored territories. Unlike many of the other bands they share the stage with, their lyrics are in English, exploring romantic and existentialist poetics in a personal style, especially on their full-length Ruth. The music is raw, violent and passionate, with reckless conjunctions between emoviolence chaos and staid moments of lo-fi clean arpeggios and abrupt screams.

The band, which broke up in 2014, has played a reunion show just last week in Odessa, with 200 people sweating and screaming all of their lyrics, but its members have also released a good quantity of material with other bands in the past couple of years. Yotsuya Kaidan, for example, are releasing these days what is one of the most poignant screamo EPs to ever come from Ukraine.



From: Kyiv, Ukraine

Sounds Like: Sigur Rós, Björk

With Ukraine constantly in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, it’s hard to imagine what the average citizen is going through. But DakhaBrakha wants people to know that life must go on for the Ukraine people.

“We just want people to know our culture exists,” states the Kyiv band, who’s making a name for itself outside its home country after a breakout performance at last year’s Bonnaroo.

Each of the band members – Marko Halanevych, Iryna Kovalenko, Olena Tsibulska, and Nina Garenetska – sing in Ukraine and play classical Ukraine instruments. The tools are traditional, but the arrangements are inspired by modern folkdrone and Björk-punk (my term to describe whatever great music Sigur Rós and Björk make) to create an atmosphere both mystic and bombastic. And just like Sigur Rós, the point of listening to DakhaBrakha isn’t necessarily to understand the words but to let the music move you emotionally.