АРКОНА

Folk Metal / Pagan Black Metal • Russia
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Аркона (aka Arkona) is a Russian folk metal band formed in Moscow in 2002.

Note: Although the band's original name is Аркона, more often the English text version, Arkona, is used instead. However Аркона is the correct name, so this page references this.

Аркона was formed as Гиперборея (aka Hyperborea) when vocalist Masha "Scream" Arhipova and drummer Alexander "Warlock" Korolyov decided to form a band based on their ideology and musical tastes. The original line up also consisted of Eugene Knyazev (guitar), Eugene Borzov (bass guitar), Ilya Bogatyryov (guitar) and Olga Loginova (keyboard). The band renamed themselves Аркона in February 2002. Later that same year Аркона set about making their first demo, Русь. In early 2003 Аркона began making live performances.

Before a first album could be made however, several of the band members had lost interest in the Аркона project. Vocalist Masha "Scream", not wishing to let the project die, recruited
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АРКОНА Discography

АРКОНА albums / top albums

АРКОНА Возрождение album cover 3.79 | 11 ratings
Возрождение
Folk Metal 2004
АРКОНА Лепта album cover 3.50 | 9 ratings
Лепта
Folk Metal 2004
АРКОНА Во славу Великим! album cover 3.78 | 14 ratings
Во славу Великим!
Folk Metal 2005
АРКОНА От сердца к небу album cover 4.18 | 13 ratings
От сердца к небу
Folk Metal 2007
АРКОНА Гой, Роде, гой! album cover 4.35 | 13 ratings
Гой, Роде, гой!
Folk Metal 2009
АРКОНА Слово album cover 4.35 | 14 ratings
Слово
Folk Metal 2011
АРКОНА Явь album cover 3.98 | 11 ratings
Явь
Folk Metal 2014
АРКОНА Возрождение (2016) album cover 4.45 | 2 ratings
Возрождение (2016)
Folk Metal 2016
АРКОНА Храм album cover 4.29 | 5 ratings
Храм
Pagan Black Metal 2018

АРКОНА EPs & splits

АРКОНА Стенка на Стенку album cover 3.42 | 4 ratings
Стенка на Стенку
Folk Metal 2011

АРКОНА live albums

АРКОНА Жизнь во славу... album cover 4.25 | 2 ratings
Жизнь во славу...
Folk Metal 2006
АРКОНА 10 лет во Славу album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
10 лет во Славу
Folk Metal 2013

АРКОНА demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

АРКОНА Русь album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Русь
Folk Metal 2002
АРКОНА Поём вместе album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Поём вместе
Folk Metal 2009
АРКОНА Поём вместе II album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Поём вместе II
Folk Metal 2013

АРКОНА re-issues & compilations

АРКОНА Акустика album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Акустика
Folk Metal 2013

АРКОНА singles (1)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Под мечами
Folk Metal 2016

АРКОНА movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
4.50 | 1 ratings
Жизнь во славу
Folk Metal 2006
.. Album Cover
5.00 | 1 ratings
Ночь Велесова
Folk Metal 2009
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Битва в Воронеже
Folk Metal 2012

АРКОНА Reviews

АРКОНА Храм

Album · 2018 · Pagan Black Metal
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adg211288
Russia's Аркона (A.K.A. Arkona, used herein) must surely be their country's premium folk metal band. They've been releasing albums since 2004's Возрождение (Vozrozhdenie), but become something really special with 2005's Во славу великим! (Vo Slavu Velikim!), actually their third album by that point due to releasing Лепта (Lepta) later in 2004. Most recently, in 2016, they went back and remade their debut album in a much more polished yet faithful to the original version, complete with more authentic folk instrumentation as they were synthesising a lot of stuff when they first started, a treatment that I hope they give Lepta as well. Before that though the band had released Явь (Yav) in 2014, an album that saw them taking different approaches in their music. It's an album that can be seen as, through the kind of hindsight that can only be gained through the release of it's follow-up, Храм (Khram), as the kind of transitional, stepping stone release to the band becoming something different. Arkona may be Russia's premium folk metal act, but in 2018 their genre allegiance has taken a thoroughly more blackened turn.

Of course Arkona was always partially based in the black metal genre, also drawing on power metal in some songs, but here it's like the genre has taken over from folk metal as the band's main focus. Khram is not so much a folk metal album but a pagan black metal album. That means that there's still folk elements to be found, but it's much more about the blackened riff and a primitive sound. Vocalist Masha "Scream" Arkhipova still uses her clean singing abilities, but is dominantly using her growling style on this record. This is not to say that her growl suddenly sounds like the typical necro black metal rasp (it doesn't) or that the guitar tone is suddenly all raw and cold (it isn't), but the overall style and vibe of the band's music has certainly taken a shift. Yet it's still very much recognisable as the work of Arkona.

They've also got noticeably more progressive with this release. Yav had elements of what I would attribute to prog but it's much more overt here and has resulted in some added complexity within the primitive pagan black metal sound Arkona has forged for themselves. This also comes across in the form of some long song structures. Intro and Outro tracks aside the only regular length song can be said to be Шторм (Shtorm) at 5:12. The rest are all at least close to eight minutes long and one, Целуя жизнь (Tseluya zhizn') is over seventeen, making it Arkona's longest song to date.

I have one gripe I need to get off my chest at this point though. It's the intro track and by extension the outro track, both titled Мантра (Mantra). The Outro version only lasts for fifty-five seconds and it's really of any consequence but the Intro version goes on for too long at 3:51 before the first proper song gets underway. I wouldn't mind so much, but the chant-based intro just fails to really click with me on any level and proves a detraction from the release as a whole. It's the kind of thing that makes me want to start the album on track two.

However the rest of the rest is excellent. Khram is definitely more of a grower than Arkona's folk metal work, thanks in no small part to its darker sound, so it may take a few listens before it really starts to feel like it's rewarding its listener for their patience. The extra long track, Tseluya zhizn', certainly stands out as the crowning achievement of the album, but there's some great work to be found right across it, with plenty of variation in the delivery of each track that gives each identity, such as the use of piano on Волчица (Volchitsa), which is actually a cover song, originally by Russian folk group ВеданЪ КолодЪ (Vedan Kolod). Arkona has released covers before, but I believe this is the first one to appear on a main album. Despite the original artist having nothing to do with metal and Arkona's newfound more black metal direction the track fits in well with their original material.

The question is, given their folk metal back catalogue, whether Khram is really the album fans wanted to hear from Arkona? For some it's inevitable that the answer will be no. For others, this will be a breath of fresh air. This band has done several folk metal masterpieces that, frankly, they'd have difficultly in bettering. It's time now for something new. It's time for Khram.

АРКОНА Возрождение (2016)

Album · 2016 · Folk Metal
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adg211288
Re-recorded albums. Many artists do them at some point, but most of the time the exercise is deemed to be completely pointless by their fans. Most likely the original didn't need re-recording in the first place (it may even be considered a classic as is the case with Flotsam and Jetsam's No Place for Disgrace (1988)). The end result of such an endeavour won't be seen as being as good despite the artist's best efforts. However one album that has always struck me as actually being able to benefit from being re-recorded is Возрождение (2004) (Vozrozhdenie), the debut album by Russian folk metal act Аркона (Arkona). Serving as their eighth full-length album and the follow-up to Явь (2014) (Yav), Возрождение (2016), is the re-recorded release that I've hoped and expected Arkona to one day do.

The reason why this album needed re-recording is not because the original was poorly done but because in their early days Arkona didn't use real instruments to create their folk sounds, instead synthesising them. So obviously the biggest draw this new version of Vozrozhdenie is that the band now use authentic sounds on it as they have done ever since their third album Во славу Великим! (2005) (Vo Slavu Velikim!). The original was always a pretty damn good album even done the way is was back then, so swapping in authentic folk can only be a benefit to the album.

With that said, this version's songs do remain very faithful to the originals, so listeners shouldn't expect any lowering of the amount of synths used and new folk parts added instead. Vozrozhdenie has always been a pretty symphonic sounding work from Arkona and this new version highlights that even more than the original. The same can be said of how much power metal influence went into this album compared to their more recent work, which displays more black metal than is present here. This is an album with lots of speed and melody, but also strong extreme metal aspects too thanks in no small part to vocalist Masha "Scream" Arkhipova continually switching between melodic clean singing (in Russian, of course) and death growls. The most notable change between the two versions of Vozrozhdenie is that the original also featured some guest vocals from Lesiar of the bands Крамола (Kramola), Невидь (Nevid) and Butterfly Temple on a few tracks but on this version those parts are handled by Masha. I tend to prefer it that way personally, as I wasn't keen on his vocals on the original version.

Vozrozhdenie was already a decent album in its original form, being the incredibly varied folk metal release that it is, and this new version enhances pretty much every aspect of it. The folk instruments are now real, so it feels more natural. The production is just that bit more polished, so it feels more powerful too. From this it's clear that Arkona have learned a lot since 2004 and the album is a recommended purchase even if you already own the original version. Here's hoping that the band's second album Лепта (2004) (Lepta) will be given the same treatment in due course.

АРКОНА Явь

Album · 2014 · Folk Metal
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adg211288
Yav (2014) (Явь in Cyrillic) is the seventh full-length album by Russian folk metal act Arkona (Аркона). It’s been three years since the release of Slovo (2011) (Слово) but the band have hardly been quiet in that time with a couple of live releases put out between 2012 – 2013. Arkona seem to have parted ways with long time drummer Vlad "Artist" Sokolov at some point during the recording as both he and replacement drummer Andrey Ischenko have credits on Yav. Otherwise Yav is largely business as usual for Arkona with several guest performers featured on the album, including a guest vocal slot from former Thyrfing frontman Thomas Väänänen and some violin by Turisas' Olli Vänskä.

I think it's fair to say that no Arkona release up until this point has really broken their own mould with the possible exception of Vo Slavu Velikim! (2005) (Во славу Великим!) which was the album the band started using authentic folk instruments on rather than imitating them as had been the case with their previous releases. They're always struck me as a band with a certain vision that they've rigorously kept with. Rather than stagnating, in my eyes they've become one of the most important acts of the folk metal genre and produced some of its best albums. However I did feel that Slovo was slightly lesser than its three predecessors, which along with Vo Slavu Velikim! also includes Goi, Rode, Goi! (2009) (Гой, Роде, Гой!) and my personal favourite Ot Serdtsa K Nebu (2007) (От сердца к небу). This is why I think it was important for Arkona to produce something like Yav at this point in their career. The style of the album, which is folk metal built on a largely black metal based backbone, will be familiar to existing Arkona fans but there are some noted differences that set Yav apart from their past work, meaning the album has a freshness to it that I quite honestly was not expecting.

The most obvious of the differences comes out in form of longer songs. Where Slovo had fourteen songs and a running time of about fifty-seven minutes Yav features just nine but a longer duration of about sixty-eight minutes. While there are a couple of shorter tracks, namely Serbia (Сербиа) and Gorod snov (Город снов) the rest of the songs are at least around the six and a half minute mark with opener Zarozhdenie (Зарождение) hitting nine and the title track being the longest at almost fourteen. The music itself also has differences of course. Yav does not simply feature elongated versions of what Arkona did before. There is a rawer atmosphere to the music that often plays upon Arkona's black metal elements. Na strazhe novyh let (На страже новых лет), the second track on the album, features some very raw and harsh black metal music and really tortured sounding vocals by Masha "Scream" Arkhipova, for instance. I'd even say that the album occasionally displays some light progressive leanings; while it remains true of Yav that the greatest focus is on the authentic folk instrumentation (instruments this time include Gaita Gallega, Blockflute, Tin whistle, Low whistle and Sopilka) and Arkhipova's excellent vocals guitarist Sergey "Lazar" Atrashkevich is certainly doing a bit more than routinely providing the riffs.

Using terms like harsh and raw is not to say that Yav doesn't still display a lively folk side as well, but there's certainly a predominant feeling of a deeper atmosphere on the songs that is far removed from the work of folk metal acts like Elvenking or Eluveitie and even Arkona's own prior releases. There are no tracks like Slovo's Stenka na Stenku (Стена на Стенку) or Goi, Rode, Goi!'s Yarilo (Ярило). Neither is there any focus given to pure folk based songs this time, but rather sections in the longer tracks. These longer arrangements have given Yav, for want of a better description, a less accessible feeling, but I do tend to find that is the way with atmospheric music. Even as a big fan of the band I have required many listens to digest Yav. It was clear right from the off that I was listening to yet another high quality release by Arkona though, that much at least was never in doubt. But deciding on how it compared to earlier masterpieces, that was the trick.

Well I've given that a lot of thought and on Yav Arkona have made the successful attempt to keep their sound but also produce something new with it and while in a ranked list I would put it below Vo Slavu Velikim!, Ot Serdtsa K Nebu and Goi, Rode, Goi! I consider Yav to another excellent release from them.

АРКОНА Слово

Album · 2011 · Folk Metal
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adg211288
Слово (2011) (AKA: Slovo, used herein) is the sixth full-length album by Russian folk metal act Аркона (Arkona herein). It follows on from the EP release Стенка на стенку (2011) (Stenka na Stenku) which was released earlier in the year, of which the title track also appears here. Like prior releases the album features a number of guest musicians including Meri Tadic of Eluveitie, and a full orchestra.

Now Arkona has really been on a role with their albums since 2005’s Во славу Великим! (Vo Slavu Velikim!). Each release has been pretty much faultless and they’ve delivered three masterpieces of their genre in a row. So logic says that eventually they’re going to trip up and after the fan’s only release that was the Stenka na Stenku EP, I did wonder if Slovo might end up being the release that did that tripping up. To be honest even then I was still expecting a solid album from Arkona since as a band they’re still miles ahead of many other acts, but to my pleasant surprise although Slovo does ultimately feel slightly lesser compared to the preceding three masterpieces, it's still of such an exceptionally high quality that the phrase tripped up does not apply. If there was a concealed root on a forest path Arkona just stepped right over it. Yeah I know, cliche forest metaphor for a folk metal review...

The presence of the orchestra gives Slovo more of a symphonic feel than any of the band’s prior work, but I wouldn’t call it a change in direction for Arkona. It's more like it’s an expansion of their sound rather than a controlling element. They certainly haven't followed the path that Finnish act Turisas have on their most recent releases. In fact it ultimately doesn't make too much of a difference at all, which leaves the release as basically more of the same with that little bit of freshness that every Arkona release has. That doesn't bother me, because theirs is the best and most consistent folk metal sound I know. I did already call Slovo slightly lesser from them and that is true, especially after many listens to the release (you're actually reading a slightly edited and updated version of this review) but even lesser from them is still worthy of high praise. They continue to make use of authentic folk instruments, now notably through new member Vladimir "Wolf" Reshetnikov, and I really can't fault Arkona's take on the folk melodies and the way they blend with Sergey "Lazar"’s guitar riffs. Their extreme take on folk metal has many nods to black metal and in my view even a little bit of death metal in a track like Никогда (Nikogda). The flow of the songs is really excellent, especially the way the intro track Азъ (Az’) moves into Аркаим (Arkaim) and alongside the most extreme edged songs you'll still find happier sounding work like Леший (Leshiy) and also in the familiar track from the EP, Stenka na Stenku. Finally of course, Masha "Scream" Arkhipova delivers the usual flawless performance of harsh growling and folksy clean singing. The only part of the album that I really don't enjoy is much is Потомок (Potomok), in which they used a child to deliver a narration part. I'm not too fond of narration in music in general so that would go some way to explain it, but I can tolerate it in Arkona when delivered by Masha. The child unfortunately sounds out of place on such an extreme metal orientated record. Fortunately this track doesn't even last a full minute and the rest of the material is excellent to top of its class.

It was always going to be wishful thinking that Arkona or any band for that matter could do four top tier records in a row, but they honestly came close to it with Slovo so while a step down from Гой, Роде, Гой! (Goi, Rode, Goi!) it's not a disappointing release from them. They had me worried after the recent EP, but the doubts I had were ultimately unnecessary. While not the best starting point for the band it's yet more proof of their greatness and a rating in the 4.5 stars bracket is fair.

93/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/topic-t2062.html)

АРКОНА Возрождение

Album · 2004 · Folk Metal
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adg211288
Возрождение (or Vozrozhdenie in English text and used herein) is the debut full-length album by Russian folk metal group Аркона (translated: Arkona), which was released in 2004. The album features an almost entirely new line-up from the group’s prior demo release, with the only constant being frontwoman Masha “Scream”. The sound of the record is notably different from later releases by the band, as at this stage in their career Arkona seems content to create their folk melody through use of a synthesiser, rather than the assortment of actual traditional instruments that graces their more recent releases.

This admittedly gives the album something of a synthetic feel in regard to the folk parts, but otherwise this is good first album from the band. The riffs are heavy and Masha’s vocals are stunning, being a mix between cleans that are very fitting to folk music, and harsh vocals, which she also does extremely well. Masha is the highlight of the album, because while her vocals are stunning, her compositional skills also make her stand out from the crowd. The synth dominated sound of Vozrozhdenie means that overall the album isn’t as stunning as it could be, the compositions are generally great and well performed, and the production gives the release a professional sound fitting to the heavy riffs and backing synths. Some of those synth parts sound real enough, but overall the ‘faked’ sound of them is a bit hard to miss.

I’m not so bothered about that in the larger scale of things. Masha makes the album a joy to listen to on her own. The main issue I have with the album is that there is a guest vocalist who crops up in a few of the tracks, called Alexey "Lesiar" Agafonov. His vocals add nothing to the album that Masha couldn’t have done better, and I don’t really see the point in bringing in guest singers when your full-time vocalist can handle the parts just fine. His growl is completely inferior to Masha’s, not because it is bad, but because it just doesn’t fit with Arkona’s music in quite the same way. I just fail to see the need for his presence here.

Vozrozhdenie is a good enough album from Arkona, but it’s not a patch on what they would go on to produce. The album is probably best described as a sign of better things to come. Still, its solid material and one of the better examples of snyth driven folk metal that I’ve come across so far. I feel a positive score is still pretty justified for Vozrozhdenie, but recommend that new-comers to the band check out later full-lengths such as Гой, Роде, гой! (aka Goi, Rode, Goi!) as a starting point for the group.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scored at 7.5/10)

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