Melnitsa - the cult Russian neo-folk rock band. Founded in 1999 by Natalia "Hellawes" O'Shea and Alexey "Chus" Sapkov around the remnants of a local folk band Till Eulenspiegel.
The band fuses Russian, Irish and other North European folk influences with guitar pop/rock. Natalya, the lead singer and primary songwriter, is an academic and a specialist in medieval European languages and cultures by day. Her expertise lends the typically complex fantasy-laden lyrics a degree of authenticity.
For the first several years the band had worked the club and festival circuit, earned a bona fide cult status in the folk-n-fantasy teenage sub-culture and released an acoustic album Doroga Sna (The Road of Dream) featuring the underground hit Gorets (Highlander) set to the Russian translation of Robert Burns' Highland Harry Back Again.
Luck struck in 2005, when the lead single Nochnaya Kobyla (Night mare) off their second, more pop-infused album Pereval (Mountain Pass) had been sneaked into rotation on Nashe Radio (the name and lyrics of the song are a complex allusion to Mara, a Norse mythical entity that caused nightmares). A grass-roots chart effort by fans propelled the song to #1 position in the "Best Of Year" chart, and the band to the small arena circuit (sparsely populated in Russia).
Their latest album Zov Krovi features the same lyrical and melody themes underscored by more rhythm section support from the band. The band is currently winding up the associated tour of Russia, and working on their fourth, as yet untitled studio album to be released in the fall of 2008.