Arkona – Stenka Na Stenku

Categories: Reviews
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Published on: June 29, 2011

I can honestly say that this is the first time I’ve listened to a metal album and thought, “I bet my 84-year-old Russian grandmother would dig this.”

I love Russian-influenced heavy metal. This is not just because it references my own culture, but because Russian music has a distinctly melancholy lilt that lends itself to pagan metal projects perfectly. Russian folk music is also incredibly rich and vibrant, with all the fun of a Finnish humppa mixed with the plaintiveness of Romany music and just a hint of Byzantine exoticism. Arkona take these elements, add some double-kick drumming, heaviness, truly impressive female death-growls, and an overall blackened sensibility, and create something extremely successful.

The album clocks in at 24 minutes – perfectly respectable for an EP. There’s a good range of material here for something positioning itself as an album-between-albums, something to whet the appetite of Arkona’s fanbase until the next full-length comes out. Stenka Na Stenku features some new material: “Valenki,” a reworked version of a traditional Russian folk song; “Skal,” which features Varg; and the title song, “Stenka Na Stenku.” There is also an acoustic version of “Goi, Rode, Goi!” and two covers: “Noviy Mir” (original by Shaman) and “Duren” original by Svarga). All the songs are packed with great melodies and harmonies, tons of positive energy, and fantastic vocals by Masha. This is definitely an EP that is worth your while, with rich and original content.

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