Arkona – Slovo – Review

A few months ago Russia’s Arkona outed the Stenka Na Stenku EP in anticipation of this first full-length since the success of 2009′s Goi, Rode, Goi!.  We were left marginally dissapointed but nevertheless curious as to what the six-piece would do next.

                         

What we can gather from Slovo is that Arkona have stepped up their game again. The title track from the EP Stenka Na Stenku is included but after we deciphered it last time round it suggested that Arkona were heading to an increasingly jovial state – like another modern Korpiklaani. Hearing it within the context of this record it’s revealed to be an anomaly somewhat.

Arkona are moving back to where they belong, and then some more. Arkaim‘s acoustic finish leading into Bolno Mne‘s (I’m In Pain) introduction leads one to believe they’re taking a small hint of Moonsorrow to utilise their pagan heathenry.

But while the song is epic, there’s a difference in the array of structures and the way they sonically carry it out. Arkona’s aggressive blastbeating and desperate growls is decorated with swathes of lamenting violin that beautifully channel a deep sadness.

Progressing onward, the introduction of Leshiy abruptly snaps you out of any feelings of sorrow with upbeat accordion that gradually morphs into what – for lack of a better term – is a weird mosh song lacking impact in it’s overly-dramatic theatrical feel.

After a short two-minutes of spoken-word in Predok (Ancestor), Nikogda (Never) rallies back to form with a surprising intro of groove riffs that transcend into big synth choirs, even bigger harmonising and the talented, terrifying primitive death growls of frontwoman Masha Arhipova.

Arhipova is vocally versatile and even though Arkona are musically eclectic this really helps to avoid any monotony in Slovo or ruin sections that wouldn’t easily suit her intimidating jagged vocals. But when Arhipova channels a spiritual energy of old, those low, raw edged primitive shouts spout from the bottom of her lungs like a cross between Alexander Krull and Ville Sorvali. Title track Slovo hints further at a seed of Moonsorrow influence, although they don’t make it overly obvious. Regardless, it’s one of the best tracks there.

Arkona have cut the length to 57-minutes and for the best part created an impressive album that most certainly outdoes their brief EP attempt and puts them on course for better things.

7/10

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