Hailing from Russia Arkona has conquered a prominent status in the metal scene gaining attention for the unique blackened pagan metal style that on the latest effort “Khram” becomes even more epic and intriguing due to the addition of multiple traditional folk instruments and a profoundly mystical aura.
While “Shtorm” offers plenty of aggressive rhythmic patterns built by bold guitar riffing, the melodic elements of this song tend to demand more attention as they move sinuously through a pitch black sonic assault to deliver darkly magical nuances enhanced by a strong folk momentum featuring flute & bagpipe and Masha’s poetic clean vocal delivery.
Far from being an average metal song “Tseluya zhizn’” is a majestic opus that starts with a calmer melodic approach evoking intense spiritual vibes but offers a multifaceted style & songwriting structure effortlessly shifting from blasts of guitar driven blackened grooves to contemplative cathartic moments crafted by darkened atmospheric layers and folk instrumental passages. Matching this fascinating duality, Masha delivers genuinely fiery growls as well as soulful chants that further amplify the dramatic nature of the guitar and strings melodies while towards the end the song enters a highly esoteric sonic realm.
“Rebionok bez imeni” feels immediately darkly poetic with mellow guitar phrases and enchanting atmospheric tones that will lead to a dense obscurity where occasional growls hold primordial blackened strength and guitars continue to maintain a steady melodic momentum enriched by elegantly emotive clean vocal delivery. While the poignant melodic elements of this song will continue to hold a prominent role also with the addition of few remarkable folk oriented passages there is still space for a satisfying dosage of untamed blackened rhythmic fury.
The dark depths of “V pogonie za beloj ten’yu” become palpable right at the beginning with classically lavish piano melodies that create expectations for what is yet to come and will return to throughout the song to provide moments of luminous melancholy. Arkona proceed to channel a relentless blackened essence with purely enraged growls and tight instrumental dynamics that will seamlessly evolve into soothing arpeggios or sorrowful melodies instead of sounding brutal at all costs.
“V ladonyah bogov” features cohesive rhythmic patterns skillfully built by groovy guitar riffs but the atmospheric & mystical essence of the slower mesmerizing ambient moments, minimalist somber melodies and arcane instrumental passages feels like the true highlight of this track evoking an otherworldly realm of mythical/celestial beings.
Overall “Khram” benefits greatly from a mature multifaceted songwriting approach that aims to intrigue the listeners with multiple, at times even unexpected, changes of scenario occurring through each lengthy track yet the essential aspects of Arkona’s renowned music style are easily recognizable.