Arkona - Slovo
Napalm Records
Folk Metal
14 songs (57:24)
Release year: 2011
Arkona, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Goat

Russia’s finest export rides on, with a new album just two years after the very good Goi, Rode, Goi! and their sixth full-length all in all. As ever, Arkona produce such stunning, expert, emotion-filled music that you wonder why there isn’t more talent in the bastard runt of a subgenre that is folk metal. Moving between various extreme metal-isms such as black and death with capable and well-placed folk instrumentation providing the melody and female vocalist par excellence Masha Scream giving as wonderful a performance as ever, Slovo is an Arkona album through and through. From eerie whispers to gruff growls to screams (often all in the same track) Masha and the band provoke a broad set of emotional reactions, and the often-orchestral backing gives the music an epic grandeur that places it in the folk metal heights.

Surprisingly if you’re new to the band, there’s little of the lightweight Korpiklaani-esque comedy drinking songs that so generally pass for folk metal in the plastic-axe scene. Instead, this album provides a set of diverse and varied songs that can include such wacky indulgences as backing choirs (the title track) and blabbering children (Potomok) without sounding silly. The chugging, surprisingly modern Leshiy moderates its catchiness with moments of sudden, zany speed, as though the band can’t not take their foot off the brakes, and the vocal whispers and ululations of Zakliatie are as much a hook as the melodies. Arkona are happy to experiment, throwing in little accordion and bagpipe melodies here and there with that happy-go-lucky broadness of stroke that makes the best folk music so interesting – the impact of the music coming from the emotion behind it rather than the micro-managed, Pro-Tools’ed examination of every second. Which isn’t to say that Arkona don’t know what they’re doing, far from it; the songwriting here is expert and sure to keep you enthralled, as will the expert implementation of choirs and orchestration – this is folk metal as performed by people who make movie soundtracks for a living.

Yet that’s not a bad thing. Arkona have grown from a side concern of those interested in a sub-genre to one of modern metal’s giants – and I use the ‘modern metal’ term as a reflection of the overall scene nowadays rather than the latest groove metal phenomenon! Folk metal, and folk music in general, has always had wide appeal and when the ingredients are in place for success as they are here with a talented, experienced band, there should be no reason that Arkona should not rise to the very top of the metal scene. Slovo shows a band more than capable of it. It’s perhaps a step sideways from Goi, Rode, Goi! rather than a step forwards, but is still an excellent album and more than recommended.

Killing Songs :
Arkaim, Leshiy, Zakliatie, Nikogda, Slovo, Odna, Stenka Na Stenku
Goat quoted 85 / 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 - Stenka na Stenku reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Arkona - Goi, Rode, Goi! reviewed by Thomas and quoted 89 / 100
Arkona - Ot Serdtsa K Nebu reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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