Arkona – “Decade of Glory” LIVE (2013)

Label : Sound Age Productions/Napalm Records

Review by Vard Aman

Arkona (Аркона) have existed for only 10 years (well, 11 now), it feels like they have been around much longer given their achievements. 11 years ago, Masha Arkhipova and Alexander Korolyov, two members of a local Slavic Pagan society decided to form a band called Hyperborea, which a little later, and after gaining more members, changed their name to Arkona (named after the last Slavic fortress destroyed by the Christian invaders). They wasted no time; in late 2002, they recorded and released their first demo entitled “Русь” (“Rus”) and followed it up by their arrival on the Russian underground live scene, where they quickly gained popularity. After a a complete line up change around Masha in 2003 (the line up which has been together ever since), their debut album “Возрождение” (“Revival”) was released in 2004. Arkona continued to grow steadily, and in 2008, after the release of their fourth album “От Сердца к Небу” (“From the Heart to the Sky”) they signed to Napalm Records. They have since become a household name in the world of Folk/Pagan Metal, and are now easily one of Russia’s biggest Metal exports, bringing Slavic Folk/Pagan Metal to the rest of the world, and hopefully with it, some knowledge of the history, the culture and the legends of the early Slavs and the Slavic lands of Rus. In the decade since Arkona‘s formation, they have released 6 studio albums, an EP, 3 DVDs and played shows across the world; and on 11 February 2012, they celebrated their 10th anniversary with an epic live show in Moscow which they recorded and has now been released as the live album “Decade of Glory” (“10 лет во Славу”).

Arkona‘s music has always translated well live, and as their songwriting and arrangements have become ever more complex in recent times, this hasn’t changed one bit; their live shows have evolved with their music. For their 10th anniversary show, they made use of Moscow’s Silver Voice choir, a string quartet and a folk duo (the Riybon’ka Folk Duet) to back them up. This is as live as it gets! (There is a familiar face/voice in the Silver Voice choir: the choirmaster, Alexandra Sidorova, vocalist of fellow Russian Pagan Metal band Rarog’. You might also remember the Silver Voice choir from Blackthorn‘s “Codex Archaos”). They have used all these new elements, such as a live choir and string quartet to spice up some of their older material for the show as well, so the older material matches the new perfectly without changing any of the songs. In “Sva” for example (one of my favourite Arkona songs), the exquisite ending of that song is given a new layer with the choir that sounds every bit as good as the flute of the original version from “От Сердца к Небу”, just different – so in short, I now have two versions, equally good, of one of the best Folk Metal songs ever written in my opinion. No complaints here at all! And on “Decade of Glory”, there are a lot of other examples that can be added to that list; a list that may be different for each Arkona fan, but will likely leave each one equally satisfied. The show was also (obviously) professionally recorded, so the quality is top notch; actually, considerably better than most live recordings I’ve heard. “Decade of Glory” is therefore not just an apt celebration of Arkona‘s first 10 years, but a definitive collection of their work. The English version is a double CD running at just over two and a half hours (31 songs), the Russian version is three CDs lasting around 3 hours (36 songs). “OK, hang on a minute”, you may be asking, “isn’t all of Arkona in Russian?” Well, yes it is, and I am not sure of why there is a difference between the two versions; maybe it’s just a case of if you were there right from the beginning you get a little extra… who knows? You could, of course, always just get both if you’re a really big fan, but one or the other should suffice if you’re a fan of Arkona; or just a fan of Folk Metal in general – because it really doesn’t get better than this.

Rating – 98/100

 

Tracklist

Disc 1

  1. Az’ [Азъ – The Beginning of all Beginnings]
  2. Arkaim [Аркаим]
  3. Ot Serdca k Nebu [От Сердца к Небу – From the Heart to the Sky]
  4. Goi, Rode, Goi! [Гой, Роде, Гой! – Hail, Rod, Hail!]
  5. Leshiy [Леший]
  6. Zakliatie [Заклятие – Incantation]
  7. Marena [Mарена]
  8. Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov [Лики Бессмертных Богов – Faces of Immortal Gods]
  9. Nevidal [Невидаль – The Wonder]
  10. Kolo Navi [Коло Нави – Kolo of Nav]
  11. Slav’sja, Rus’ [Славься, Русь! – Long Live Rus’! / Glory to Rus’!]
  12. Kupala i Kostroma [Купала и Кострома – Kupala and Kostroma]
  13. Odna [Одна – Alone]
  14. Sva [Сва]
  15. Kupalets [Купалец]
  16. Katitsja Kolo [Катится Коло – Kolo is Whirling]

 

Disc 2

  1. Kolyada [Коляда]
  2. Skvoz’ Tuman Vekov [Сквозь Туман Веков – Through the Fog of Ages]
  3. Maslenitsa [Масленица]
  4. V Tsepiakh Drevney Tainy [В Цепях Древней Тайны – In the Chains of Ancient Mystery]
  5. Slovo [Слово – The Word]
  6. Bol’no Mne [Больно Мне – It Hurts Me]
  7. Pamiat [Память – Memory]
  8. Arkona [Аркона]
  9. Po Syroi Zemle [По Сырой Земле – On the Damp Earth]
  10. Oj, Pechal’-Toska [Ой, Печаль-Тоска – Oh, My Sorrow, My Anguish]
  11. Yarilo [Ярило]
  12. Stenka na Stenku [Стенка на Стенку – Wall on Wall]
  13. Vyjdu Ja Na Voljushku [Выйду Я на Волюшку – I Shall Wander into the Open]
  14. Rus’ [Русь]
  15.  Zov Predkov [Зов Предков – Call of Ancestors]

 

Line Up

  • Masha “Scream” Arkhipova – Vocals, Shaman drums, Tambourine
  • Sergei “Lazar” Atrashkevich – Guitar, Backing vocals
  • Ruslan “Kniaz” Rosomakherov – Bass
  • Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetnikov – Flutes, Bagpipes, Wind instruments, Gaita gallega, Sopilka, Zhaleika, Backing vocals
  • Vlad “Artist” Sokolov – Drums

 

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