Arkona - Ot Serdtsa K Nebu
Napalm Records
Folk Metal
11 songs (1:00:51)
Release year: 2008
Arkona, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Goat

Ot Serdtsa K Nebu, translating roughly as ‘from the heart to the sky’, is especially fitting as a title for Arkona’s fourth full-length, as this is the sound of a band dropping all constraints and reaching ever-greater heights as a result. There’s a subtle sense of expanded influences, from the Prog realm as well as the expected Death and Black mainstays, but there’s also a darker atmosphere here than on previous albums that makes the listening experience that much more intense. The band know that they’ve taken a step beyond anything achieved so far, opener Pokrovy Nebesnogo Startsa preparing the way with cinematic Negură Bunget-esque keyboards and early-Enslaved creepy twanging strings, before a brutal Death Metal riff comes out of nowhere and beats you around the face, whilst Masha’s growls at first had me thinking that they’d got Anaal Nathrakh’s V.I.T.R.I.O.L in on vocals. The woman truly is fantastic: raw, unhinged and cathartic, setting the stage for the Folk instrumentation as the track progresses and never failing to send shivers scurrying up and down your spine.

It’s hard not to be enthralled throughout the listen. Goy, Kupala!!! has twisty riffs, acoustic meandering and colossal roars for vocals, before Masha’s clean singing starts, instantly recognisible as Russian, the ululating calls and moans astonishing. There’s plenty of gentleness amongst the rage; the title track’s flute, the whole of Oy, Perchal-Toska, the instrumental Gutsulka, the lamentation of Strela... as much as this is Metal, it is primarily Folk, the collective tales of a people passed on throughout generations, bearing the weight of all those lives. Good stories are good stories whatever language you tell them in, and as Arkona prove, they’re good whether you tell them amidst calm or storms. Said storms, the harsh and speedy Nad Propastyu Let for example, still have a good deal of melody underneath (with a wonderful piano interlude) but as with that track in particular, it’s fairly obvious that a good deal of influence comes from the Black Metal sphere. As mentioned before, the epic mystery of Negură Bunget seems to be referenced several times, and in their own way Arkona do as good a job, although clearly in a different setting.

That’s not to say that Ot Serdtsa K Nebu is all grandiose and highbrow; the likes of Kupala I Kostroma are jaunty fireside dances that it’s hard not to sing along with (or try and fail badly, in my case) after a couple of listens. Without a doubt, however, the album’s highlight is the ten-minute finale Katitsya Kolo, starting with ominous percussion and soon building into a foot-stomper, before returning to the atmospherics of the first track. It’s brilliant, utterly hypnotic and an intriguing step for a Folk Metal band – what will they come up with next? This album was actually released in 2007, but was licensed by Napalm Records for release in the west, and hopefully with their backing future albums from Arkona will gain the band the rewards they deserve. On the evidence so far, their music just keeps getting better, and I wish them all the luck in the future.

Killing Songs :
Pokrovy Nebesnogo Startsa, Goy, Kupala!!!, Ot Serdtsa K Nebu, Kupala I Kostroma, Sva, Katitsya Kolo
Goat quoted 89 / 100
Thomas quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Arkona that we have reviewed:
Arkona - Khram reviewed by Alex and quoted 91 / 100
Arkona - Yav reviewed by Alex and quoted 91 / 100
Arkona - Slovo reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Arkona - Stenka na Stenku reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Arkona - Goi, Rode, Goi! reviewed by Thomas and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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