Label : Napalm Records
Review by Tony Cannella & Si Smith
Russian Pagan/Folk Metallers Arkona are currently prepping their next full-length album for later in the year, in the meantime they have managed to come out with the EP “Stenka Na Stenku” to appease their ever growing fan base. 6-songs and 25-minutes of power folk is what you will receive on “Stenka Na Stenku”. Included here you will find a new track that will appear on the next album, as well as five non-album tracks. The opener “Stenka Na Stenku” is a fast up-tempo opener and one that sets the pace for what is to follow. The energetic and melodic “Valenki” keeps things going full speed ahead. The bands signature Folk Metal sound remains intact, as you can tell on the acoustic “Goi, Rode, Goi!”, “Skal!” (Featuring guest vocals courtesy of Frekl from the band Varg), “Duren” and the album closer “Noviy Mir”. While this is not the full-length that their fans have been waiting for, “Stenka Na Stenku” gets the job job in building anticipation for the impending release of Arkona’s next slice of pagan, folk nirvana.
Rating – 80/100
A new Arkona release is always a pleasure to hear, and this one is no exception. Fans will know what to expect, the sound is typical Arkona, tending more towards the faster jollier side of the band, particularly with the new songs. The first track “Stenka na Stenku” is taken from the upcoming album and begins with traditional accordion sounds to a humpa rhythm, before ascending to recognisable Arkona territory as Masha comes in with the vocals and the folk metal masters begin to weave their magic. A fast upbeat tempo races the song to its albeit brief finale. A strong song but quite small at less than three minutes. Now we are treated to some non-album tracks. “Valenki” raises the pace once again, then Masha‘s vocals come in for an almost Hebrew sounding slow section before returning to the superfast pace once again. Another jolly track to add to the collection, one based on a traditional folk song. An acoustic version of “Goi, Rode, Goi” follows, and introduces us to a slower, more laid back Arkona, especially compared to the riotous original. Diehard fans will enjoy this new take on an already popular song of theirs, sounding as it does an altogether different beast to the original. Next comes an another new song, this one written in collaboration with the band Varg. Freki from Varg guests on vocals and the chorus sounds suspiciously like they are swearing in German (!). Another lifting of pace for this one, although like the title track another very short one, clocking in at just over two and a half minutes. Two cover versions follow, covering “Duren” from Svarga and “Noviy Mir” from Shaman. These are less bouncy and jolly than what has preceded and offer more of the melancholy side of Arkona. As always the band is tight and inspired, and the vocals are gorgeous as we would expect from Masha. In short, a great preparation for the upcoming new album in the summer. Fans will love it; it may not be the best introduction to the band for new fans, as it does not fully encapsulate the whole Arkona sound – but for this listener it contains enough of interest to demand a repeated listen.
Rating – 80/100
- Stenka Na Stenku
- Goi, Rode, Goi! (Acoustic Version)
- Skal (Featuring Freki of Varg)
- Noviy Mir
- Masha Scream – Vocals
- Sergej Lazar – Guitar
- Vladimir Volk – Wind, Ethnic Instruments
- Ruslan Kniaz – Bass
- Vlad Artist – Drums