Arkona – Khram

 The mystical realm of folk metal is one that is very commonly merged with pagan metal, and while the two are close they’re also quite different in plenty of ways. Oftentimes, people see these differences and choose to blend them together to create a cohesive sound that’s not only cohesive but also amazingly intriguing. Arkona is the perfect band that does such after doing it for many albums for many years, and they show little sign of waining in quality. Should there be any person foolish enough to deny the magic behind Arkona, they merely need to look towards their upcoming album and see there’s no reason at all to doubt the talent behind these Russians.

I remember people not enjoying Arkona purely because they used audio samples in their earlier efforts, and while I’m not a massive fan of it I can understand it given the lack of resources, but you can put a little price on a quality experience which is precisely what they delivered. Skip ahead many years later and we find Arkona with “Khram”, and no longer having to rely on computer magic to create their world, but instead real instruments played by real people. With such a step comes an increase in overall quality to your material, and that’s on clear display with “Khram” as Arkona busts out what can be described as possibly their most immersive album to date as well as their most intimate. From start to finish, Arkona doesn’t pull any punches with their unique approach on pagan metal coming to a peak in ways that very few other bands are able to accomplish, and what we get from it is an unforgiving world filled with mystery, enchantments, and moon-lit woods that makes “Khram” such an entrancing world to step into. And while Arkona definitely does the darker side of pagan metal infinite justice, it’s the undeniable power behind the musicianship from the tasteful epics to the throat singing mixed with cellos, pianos, wind instruments, etc. that makes “Khram” a very fluid experience that’s as stunning as it is entertaining.

Russia’s vast land has always been ripe for a band like Arkona and this band saw that opportunity only to seize it for their own, and since then they’ve been doing no less than absolutely dominating their country and beyond with pagan metal that is wholly unique to them. “Khram” means temple in English, and temples are open to all, are they not? “Khram” opens up the temple that is Arkona’s whole body of work for all to witness with pure splendor, and this album is a perfect representation of what this band can accomplish.

“Khram” releases on January 19th via Napalm Records. You can pre-order the album via iTunes here.

Track Listing:

  1. Mantra (Intro)
  2. Shtorm
  3. Tseluya zhizn’
  4. Rebionok bez imeni
  5. Khram
  6. V Pogonie Za Beloj Ten’yu
  7. V ladonyah bogov
  8. Volchista
  9. Mantra (Outro)