ARKONA - Slovo CD
Russia's ARKONA have been favorites of mine for a few years now or more accurately after I heard their От Сердца к Небу (aka: From the Heart to the Sky) full length back in late 2007. Since then I've kept up with ARKONA as well as picking up their most recent releases. 2009's Goi, Rode, Goi was definitely a high mark in their career since not only did they receive praise from SFM666 (the stiffest feather in anyone's cap) but also from some of the better European publications. Now they're doing festivals Europe as well as touring the states in December with Finland's KORPIKLAANI. I'm guessing they'll do a package of more accessible numbers for the crowds. ARKONA basically mixes classic metal (as well as some heavier genre examples) with Slavic folk elements including the use of flutes, bagpipes, cello, accordion, keyboards and acoustic guitar. The standout part of the band is singer Masha "Scream" Arhipova who not only employs a clean and gruff vocal style but actually sounds folksy as opposed to just another siren in animal skins. When it comes to Pagan Folk Metal authenticity counts. Which brings us to this latest one. Slovo sounds more like a melodic folk rock conceptual piece which is a change from their more warrior homeland approach from previous releases. Not bad as far as any fan of this genre would agree but not much actual metal, not even a hammer pounding an anvil as a soundbite. The music is inviting with melodic spoken word passages drift into dramatic symphonic numbers. Slovo runs the gambit of folksy to epic all throughout. Not my favorite of theirs but a decent listen.