Arkona – “Slovo”

(Napalm Records)

Russian pagan metal band Arkona have been making quite a stir on the live circuit especially after the release of their “Goi, Rode, Goi!” EP that saw them expand their sound as well as their audience. Now with “Slovo” it all comes together in showing a band that has come of age in bringing together the elements making up Arkona from the folk to the shamanic to metal, all with a distinct Russian flavour complete with Stalin’s singing masses and da-da-da groove! “Slovo” is also the band’s most ambitious project to date, bringing together orchestras and choirs like on the intro ‘Az’ before the metal suddenly assaults you like a T34 tank brigade and Masha’s macho vocals kick in. On the more upbeat tracks like ‘Leshiy’ there is an almost dance beat but elsewhere like on the delicate folk melody of ‘Tam Za Tumanami’ show the incredible, yet genuine diversity this band have. This is probably no more apparent than on the spoken word prayer of ‘Predok’ where’s Masha’s hushed, almost ghostly echoed words give way to the battle cries of ‘Nikogda’. But for me, it is the epic closer of ‘Zimushka’ that brings it all home, with it’s tempered tribal drumming, wailing trance like vocals and folk flutes, producing a strong spiritual vibe that gives a very ancient feel to this song. If you only buy one album of this genre this year then simply make it this one, as you will be simply not be disappointed.

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