Label : Napalm Records

Review by Erwin van Dijk

Arkona is a pagan metal band from Russia. The band is named after the temple fortress of Arkona, on the island of Rugen in Germany. This temple was a religious centre of the Slavic Rani in the early Middle Ages. Ironically the temple was destroyed by Danish invaders (Vikings turned over to Christianity of all things!) and this was the start of the forced Christianization of Eastern Europe.Back at home the band decided not to go on a long hiatus and in October 2008 started working on their 5th album “Goi, Rode, Goi”. The level maintained on the album “Ot Serdca K Nebu” was very high, but the band aimed to make a very unique album, something that had never been done before by them. In the breaks during recording the band managed to release and present the second DVD “Noch Velesova” in May 2009 at Napalm Records, and also Arkona performed at the German festival Winternoise. The work on the album was finished only in June 2009, and we can say now that it was the most laborious and time-taking recording, where more than 40 musicians participated. For the first time the band used a full-fledged chorus and a string quintet, and the special pearl of this album is the 15-minute saga “Na Moey Zemle” which is about the adventures of a Slav in European countries, with the participation of the musicians from such bands as Manegarm, Obtest, Skyforger, Menhir and Heidevolk. The parts of ethnical instruments on this album are performed partly by Vladimir Cherepovsky and partly by Vladimir “Volk”, who has become a full-blown member of Arkona recently. The album cover design was done by Kris Verwimp, known to many. He carried out enormous work drawing a series of conceptual illustrations for each song of this album.Arkona has not forgotten that folk & pagan metal is a straight descend from the black metal from the eighties (see Bathory’s Blood on Ice and Hammerheart) and Arkona still true to these roots. Like Negura Bunget Arkona is not oriented on Scandinavian or German pagan but finds inspiration from Eastern Europe were the Slavs were the last bastion of Paganism during the mediaeval ages. All the songs are in Russian. Does this matter? Not really. While English seems to be the standard language bands such as Korpiklaani have proven that there is more than the language of McDonalds and Coca Cola. Music wise there is a lot of varity between the fourteen songs on the album, ranging from Korpiklaani style party tracks to black metal influenced songs and everything in between. Each time you listen to the album you will hear something new. This is something I really like of this album. And necessary because the album goes on for almost 80 minutes, twice the length of a ‘standard’ folk metal album album.The voice over between some songs gives the album a nice Lord of the Rings feeling (or, even better, think of the movie The 13th Warrior) Speaking of voices: Masha does a very good job on this album.A song like Korochun is a real party song in Korpiklaani style. This is logic because the Korochun was a day similair to Halloween: a day when the Black God (or, in Russian Czernobog and other evil spirits are most potent. Some of the faster songs have a little Cruachan feeling and are an invitation for a moshpit.The album has a solid production but does not sound to polished like the last Leaves’ Eyes album. It has still some rough edges. Conclusion: The album might not a groundbreaking piece of art that will change the course of the pagan metal as we know it but still it is a lot of fun to listen to it. And, it makes you wonder how many more bands from Russia are waiting to be discovered.

Rating – 90/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Goi, Rode, Goi!
  2. Yarilo
  3. Nevidal
  4. Na Moey Zemle
  5. Pritcha
  6. V Tsepaikh Drevney Tainy
  7. Tropoiu Nevenannoi
  8. Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov
  9. Kolo Navi
  10. Korochun
  11. Pamiat
  12. Kupalets
  13. Arkona
  14. Kebo Hmuroe, Tuchi Mrachniye

Line Up

  • Masha “Scream” Arhipova – Vocals
  • Sergei “Lazar” – Guitars
  • Vladimir “Volk” – Wind Ethnic Instruments (Flutes & Bagpipes)
  • Ruzlan “Kniaz” – Bass 
  • Vlad “Artist” Sokolov – Drums & Keyboards

 

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