With their last crack of the whip Russia’s Arkona set a certain standard with their own ‘pagan’ metal sound. Now, with the high expectations we’ve accumulated since 2009′s impressive but a tad lengthy Goi Rode Goi – we await something special.
Even with this EP, the quintet don six-songs, off-loading three new songs (one with a guest appearance from Freki of Varg fame), an acoustic version of their previous record’s title track and two covers.
Opener Stenka Na Stenku has an impressive accordion intro and sounds promising but soon develops into a narrow, repetitious chorus (loy, loy, loy). It’s second track Valenki that raises the bar a little with instrumental folk breakdowns of mandolin and accordion adjusting the poise for an odd blastbeat, thrashy structure or epic choir.
Arkona nail a solid variety of tempos here and prove that their extensive wielding of folk instruments isn’t just a gimmick.
The covers include Duren – a song from fellow Russian band Svarga, before closing the EP with a decent bagpipe-riddled Noviy Mir interpretation – originally a song from Jonne Jarvela’s now-disbanded Shaman (Finnish band not to be confused with Brazilian band of the same name).
For those unsure, think of a more folk orientated, female fronted Korpiklaani chock with succinct, serene melodies with a potential to burst into a frenzied, hoarse guttural assault.