Arkona – “Yav” (Napalm Records)
With all the furor currently enveloping the Ukraine this latest album could be almost the catalyst to spark that much feared WW3! A giant step away from their previous albums that were traditionally Russian folk, “Yav” is a concept album based on Slavic mythology, where Yav is the world we live in, and Nav a dark, opposing dimension whilst Prav is the spirit world. Perfect really for a movie, but for Arkona it forms the basis for frontwoman “Masha Scream” Arkhipova’s philosophy that while we want to see the world as Yav very often it ends up as Nav. Certainly deep, but even more so is the music with a fair number of songs clocking around the 6 minute mark or longer like ‘Na Strazhe Novyh Let‘ or the haunting closer ‘V ob’jat’jah kramoly’ that now feature a more prominent black metal core including blast beats amidst other styles like prog, rock and electronic elements. There’s still a fair amount of wind instruments in the mix along with pagan melodies, just no songs made up entirely of them like in the past with only ‘Gorod Snov’ (just listen to those rolling rrrrr’s – ed) only coming remotely close as I believe Arkona’s pagan philosophy is (now?) centered around its ideological lyrics and not its music, which apparently can use many platforms (news to me – ed). If that wasn’t contentious enough, the nationalistic track ‘Serbia’ – written after the band’s recent tour there – is sure to evoke trepidation, if not for its mainstream rock / electronic sound, but certainly its subject matter as a video request by the band has already been declined (unsurprisingly – ed). “Yav” is undoubtedly an Arkona album and certainly sounds like one – but it’s more modern sounding with little folk and could be what Vladimir Putin is listening to as he takes us to the apocalypse lol!