Gorod Dit: The cult doom metal Russian band

Gorod Dit / Город Дит (City of Dis) is a russian band that existed in some form or another from the beginning of 1986 in the USSR. The band name is a reference to the circle of hell in Dante’s «The Divine Comedy». Yet the first recording came into being in the 1988 under the title «Город» simply «The City».

The band Gorod Dit was established in Novosibirsk by Leonid Melnikov. The first lineup consisted of Yuriy Nikishin on lead guitar, Yuriy Baranenko on vocals, Melnikov on rhythm guitar, and Mikhail Starusev responsible for the drums. The soviet metal scene at the time was growing and it was time in the spotlight for bands like Aria, Legion and Master, who are the pioneers of russian heavy metal and thrash. Those bands were extremely popular in the Soviet Union and were beginning to gain an audience outside of Russia. Gorod Dit were no less talented than those bands but completely different. 

The first album was recorded and released in 1989 «Настанет этот день» (The day will come) and labeled as thrash metal in the press, however this is simply not true. The debut album is a gloomy mixture of traditional heavy metal (like Aria but darker) with epic traditional doom metal in the manner of Candlemass. At times one can hear similarities to later great bands in the genre, such as Solitude Aeternus, which were not formed yet. Aside from the first track, which is basically a Motorhead rip-off, the rest of the album is a unique, original slow dark doom / heavy metal with vocal techniques, which remind of Ronnie Dio. The guitars are slow, atmospheric, outlined by the underground production typical for rock and metal bands in the late USSR.

The lyrics are something special, not only for russian bands but in general. They’re filled with existential themes of death, despair and human mortality. The message of Gorod Dit’s lyrics is not far from philosophy of Albert Camus or Arthur Schopenhauer. This is a kind of «in your face» existential pessimism, rarely seen in the lyrics, no fantasy lyrics or metaphores like in Candlemass. The closest analogy is the darker lyrics of Tom Waits like «Dirt in the ground». After the vynil release the guitarist left the band, the lineup changes resulted in style changes. So Gorod Dit now had one guitar and decided to play more straightforward thrash with gloomy lyrics. This can be heard on the album «Самоубийца» released in 1990, the title translates to «Suicider» in English. After this album the band’s manager passed away. 

There were more problems and lineup changes and the band splits up in 1995 after releasing a live album and an english-lyrics album «Over There». Fortunately the band decided to reunite in 2002 and now Gorod Dit plays the first era – doom metal material and mostly ignores the trash stuff. The current lineup often plays live and they are the metal stars of Novosibirsk and the local Siberian scene, but unfortunately they remain obscure and unknown outside the region. Only collectors of old school metal seem to know of them outside their region. 

There was a documentary released about Gorod Dit and they appeared on a few live DVDs. The reason for the obscurity is simply bad promotion, the material still holds today and can be compared to the best of epic doom metal records of the 1980s.

Gorod Dit By Anton Bryukov.

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