Arkona are not a band I am familiar with at all. They are predominantly a Russian folk/pagan metal band who sing in Russian so it’s probably understandable that I haven’t come across them before. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware there was a Russian folk metal scene so shame on me for that. On a first listen, with no research done, my first thoughts were how strong the male vocals sounded and how well they worked with higher pitched female vocals in the chorus. I was surprised, after looking into the band further, to find that there is no male vocalist. Arkona are a female fronted band who blend heavy/death metal styling with folk music. The lead singer, Maria “Masha Scream” Arkhipova pulls off the death metal growl style with ease and excellence.
Vozrozhdenie translates to “rebirth” and that is quite apt as this song is from an album of the same name that was released in 2004. That album has now been rerecorded and had a complete production uplift along with the addition of new instrumentals at places and new instruments at others.
This title track of that rerecord is just over 6 minutes long and was released as a single. It starts with big sounding drum beats and keyboards adding melody before a fantastic guitar riff takes over and pushes the tempo up. The verses are very black/death metal with low, deep growling vocals over low tones from Sergei “Lazar” Atrashkevich on the guitar and Ruslan “Kniaz” Rosomaherov on the bass. Keyboards add a bit of a higher tone as the verse progresses and starts building towards a very folk styled pre chorus. Sang in that chanting style, familiar in folk, and in cleaner vocals it is very catchy.
That section ends and, what I think is a flute, takes over to play a neat little solo over some phenomenal speed drumming by Andrey Ishchenko (who also happens to be the only band member to not have a middle/stage name, poor chap). The fast drums over the slower flute of Vladimir “Volk” Reshetnikov works brilliantly here. The song raises intensity through a more operatic, clean style of singing for a bit before the death metal vocals come back with force. No matter what happens with the vocal style though, the music is consistently fast and infectious. There are heavy folk and pagan influences in the tone and pitch throughout the track but Arkona manage to stay very much on the heavier side of folk metal which makes for a very enjoyable listen.
Vozrozhdenie is a very catchy song from a band who are obviously immensely talented. There is great musicianship on show coupled with strong vocals. I wish I knew what the lyrics where but it doesn’t really matter. You can still clearly hear and understand the quality within. They are definitely a band I want to hear more from and I will be picking up the full EP very shortly.
Remember, support your metal or risk losing it
Vozrozhdenie by Arkona (Rebirth)