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Arkona | ‘Decade Of Glory’

If you’d told me three weeks ago I’d be into Arkona, I’d have pffff’d and rolled my eyes.

Russian folk metal? Fair dues, but not my bag – sorry.

And if you’d said the thing that would swing it would be a thirty one track live album, I may even have laughed in your face.

Yet Arkona’s latest collection of tracks has grown on me to the point where I’m now considering going out to get everything they’ve done. What comes across on this long, comprehensive and most unlikely of successess is the conviction this band have in their music.

A lot of it – in fact most of it – is down to singer Maria Arkhipova, who’s just captivating throughout.

That, plus the folkloric melodies inherent in the music that just get right under your skin.

Let’s start at the start. When Maria starts bellowing after the initial blastbeats of ‘Arkaim’, from the latest album ‘Slovo’, you can feel that she means it, with every fibre. This is one driven girl.

So it continues, track after track. The folk instrumentation never, ever gets in the way and is always complimentary to the distinctive Eastern European mood.

That mood sits over their music like a dark fog. There’s something timeless about the melodies, olden while being stirring, battling and at times mournful. If you ever crave music that evokes times and places past, this band do a fantastic job.

So even when the accordian gets cracked out for ‘Leshiy’, it’s only to give way to a savage, almost Negura Bunget style rasp of guitar and pumping riff that reminds of Skyforger.

Some tracks though just demand anthemic fist banging. Take this live spin of ‘Zakliate’ (again from ‘Slovo’) which starts off with an incantation and moves into one of the most thumping tracks on here. Maria leads it all.

If you want brooding, they do that too. ‘Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov’ from the ‘Goi, Rode, Goi!’ album has Maria in soaring form, nut like some angelic vision at the front of the stage but rather a battle hardened woman singing her guts out. It’s more Madder Mortem than Within Temptation.

It’s an album packed with energy, variety and talent. Maria’s singing as well as her roared vocals are incredible and hold up over the course of the extensive 31 song set list.

The best bit is that even for a non fan, it’s enough to really win you over. How many live cds can you ever say that about?

They’ve just caught something with it. I dont know if that’s down to track selection, the quality with which they played on the night this was recorded or what, but it’s just hit upon exactly the right mix.

If you’re a dedicated trawler of the underground but have so far missed this band for whatever reason, you need to pick this up. It shows a band at their best, has atmosphere in abundance and is packed with power. You’ll also find a new gal to champion in the hallowed metal halls of amazing singers.

4.2 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 26/02/13

  1. savage band, cant wait to get this one. and to the reviewer id advise you to go and get every album they have released!

  2. Yep, start from the beginning and get everything (at least up to the last album which I haven’t heard so I can’t judge it).

  3. must buy

  4. Folk metal without the comedy or cheese. Like a better moonsorrow/negura bunget. Powerfull shtuff, amazed i haven’t noticed them before. Surely an eventual Irish gig is inevitable?

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