Arkona is the most successful Russian pagan black metal band. Leaded by the charismatic front-woman Masha “Scream” they have released 4 full-length albums from 2004 and most of their gigs are sold out. Many guest musicians from the metal and folk scene participate in their albums and their popularity both in Russia and abroad couldn’t be unnoticed, so they signed in Napalm Records for their future releases.
“Ot Serdtsa K Nebu – From the Heart to the Skies” is their fourth album and the last released by SoundAge Productions. It’s a great mixture of pagan black metal and traditional folk Russian music. Mascha’s amazing vocals are the band’s trademark. She has one of the best screams in the genre, while her clean folk vocals are simply perfect. The way she sings in both styles is unique and especially her “ethnic” vocals are like coming from another age, perfectly fitting with the archaic traditional atmosphere of their music. This album has a more folk acoustic approach. Many songs have only acoustic traditional instruments performed by skilled guest folk musicians from Russia, and the ones with guitars follow folk scales and tunes. The structures of the songs are very complex and very hard to define. Don’t expect the typical pagan black metal songs. Actually “Ot Serdtsa K Nebu – From the Heart to the Skies” must be seen as a concept album; like a big track. All the lyrics are in Russian and they speak about pagan ancient Slavic traditions and myths.
The production of the album is excellent and the quality of the music at very high levels. Unlike their previous albums this time they don’t search for catchy refrains, but they experiment more with the essence of their pagan folk music’s roots. The album is released in a normal jewel case cd and in a great digibook with a 28-page booklet! The artwork of the album is by Kris Verwimp and the result is excellent as always. This is a must have of the genre, that I am sure all of their fans already bought. If you don’t know Arkona (don’t confuse them with the Polish raw black metal band, or other bands with the same name) and want to listen to them you can follow the links below.
Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos