Arkona – Slovo

Categories: Reviews
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Published on: August 20, 2011

Three months after the release of EP Stenka na Senku, Arkona have released Slovo, the full-length banquet to the EP’s amuse bouche. The folk element is unquestionably the crux of the album, and this leads to an extremely interesting approach to sound construction. Because the folk instruments and traditional songs the band are inspired by have a broad range of tones, themes and subjects, Arkona have adapted the metal element to the demands of the folk tunes.

As a result, Slovo is composed of many styles and subgenres, and the sound of the album varies greatly form track to track. A grim dirge may be followed by a soulful ballad, then a stirring military march and a bawdy drinking song. Masha’s vocals also transmute to suit each song, and this is unquestionably her strongest performance to date. Her clean singing is clear and soulful, and her growls can be downright otherworldly.

“Nikogda” is the loudest, roughest song here; it’s aesthetic is distinctly black metal, with a Russian choral element. It’s also my favourite number, along with the moody, doom-y title track. In every number, the metal serves the needs of the traditional elements. This translates to an album with strong cultural roots and a sophisticated appreciation for the acoustic, rather than a metal record with flute bits. What this does mean though is that this is a collection rather than a concept word, which is both a strength and weakness.

Arkona’s Slavic lilt and sophisticated instrumentation are a combination I greatly enjoy, and this is definitely an album I will continue to. It’s also a record I will listen to in pieces, choosing particular bits to serve my mood.

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