Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ARKONA - "Ot Serdca K Nebu" CD Review

ARKONA - "Ot Serdca K Nebu" CD
Napalm Records

From Russia with Slavic Pagan Folk Metal Love. I first learned about ARKONA a few months back when I was checking out some Pagan Folk Metal videos. But as soon as I checked out this release I became an instant fan. But by no means is ARKONA just another new band who've jumped in on the Pagan Folk/Battle Metal genre explosion of late. In fact ARKONA are the top Pagan Folk band in Russia. They formed back in 2002 and have put out a handful of releases. This one here originally was released in the fall of 2007. But Napalm Records stepped in to re-release it in the hopes that ARKONA will be more than just a hit in there home country. They're looking towards the world now. And after a few listens I think they are well on their way to getting
there. Their name comes from the last pagan Slavic city castle which was an ancient religious center on the island of Rugen dedicated to the god, Swietowit.

Now I know that the readers of Scumfeast Metal are kinda squeamish whenever I start writing about a Pagan Folk or Battle Metal band. Yes this release has all the musical trappings of what you've become accustomed to with the Pagan Folk Metal genre. You've got your flutes, accordions, acoustic guitars and even some progressive sounding keyboards which are coupled with the heavy guitars and pounding drums. But on Ot Serdca K Nebu, which translates into English as "From the
Heart to the City", ARKONA provides the listener with a dark moody release with many elements of Black and Death Metal into their patented Pagan Folk sound. The basic key to the band's sound is their vocalist/songwriter, Masha "Scream" Arhipova, who can sing clean vocals like Silje Wergeland of OCTAVIA SPERATI plus she screams and growls like Angela Gossow of ARCH ENEMY. Even better is that it's all sung in Russian which gives it a more traditional feel to it.

Music-wise all of the songs on this release are great especially since the band adds enough variety to their mix. At one point you're being punished with "Nad Propastyu Let" which in English is "Over the Abyss of Ages". Then there's the title track which I tend to keep playing over and over. "Sva", a cut near the end of the CD is another favorite, plus the doomish "Oy Pechal-Toska". The whole release is full of variations on a theme which make it a package worth your while. Just drop this CD in your stereo and prepare for one long mountain ride.

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