Arkona - Vo Slavu Velikim!
Sound Age Productions
Folk Metal
14 songs (61:23)
Release year: 2005
Reviewed by Thomas

Folk metal done good is always a pleasure to experience. What I especially have come to like with folk metal bands, is that if they sing in their native tongue. The songs are given a whole different boost to them which is very well appreciated even though I can for the life of me not understand a bloody thing. Capturing the ancient passion of creating music is hard. Achieving that passion with combining ancient and newer directions of music is even harder. Few manage to create folk music as well as Arkona does, and I eagerly approached this with great anticipation. This is after all one of the, if not the best band in the business. So here we are, a short year after the glorious Lepta, Arkona yet again emerged out of the deep forests in Russia to unleash the bombastic Vo Slavu Velikim! to kick our pagan asses.

Well, this record is more for the patient one. Fourteen tracks may seem too much, and I must admit that they did tend to drag on a bit. However, after giving this a fair amount of spins I’ve found that there is nothing wrong with quantity as long as there is quality to it. The highlight for me is definitely Masha `Scream`’s vocals. Her clean vocals are more dominant here than on Lepta, which creates a massive attack of melodic vocal lines that I would’ve loved to sing along to if I only knew the language. On the other hand, that woman sure can scream, and I can almost feel the powerful shockwaves her voice generates again and again. Another thing she does while recording is adding up four-five layers of vocals on the same line sung in different tones and octaves which make this much more of an exciting listen. It would be exciting to find out of how they’d do that live. The smooth flute-playing is layered like soft silk beneath the compelling vocal melodies, following every twist and every turn, which just triples the excitement. Arkona are shaping their songs with excellence. How they can come up with melody after melody, riff after riff, and hell even all the instruments they choose to fit each piece of work is beyond me. Their songwriting has definitely improved since Lepta. There are a few interludes to be found on here to give the listener a break from the otherwise intense blasting, however, if you’re like me you’ll even find those tracks fascinating.

Among all the Viking/folk influences, you’ll also be able to find a hint of black metal too. The riffs are sometimes dipping over in tremolo area, and Ms. Scream’s aforementioned harsh vocals have no problem out-shrieking bunches of male vocalists who shall remain nameless. They take the harsher elements of Ensiferum mixing them up with the polka-moments of Finntroll, making it something of their own when they add their Slavic pagan touch. The war-chants and battle-cries, the enthralling Russian language and the melodies only Arkona creates these days, makes this outstanding. From the calm, bagpipe(?)-driven intro, through the blast-beating yet spellbinding Skvoz' Tuman Vekov, to the magic journey that is the title-track, the epic Po Syroi Zemle, all the way to the monstrous and anthemic closer, Sila Slavnyh, Arkona gives you a lesson in how proper folk metal should sound and be executed.

I love how Arkona took a great leap in the right direction, without ever looking back with this release. There are more or less no filler material here, and if there should be a downpoint, it is maybe some overly use of various instruments. They balance their influences with great control, never letting either one take completely over. In short, simple yet face-slamming riffs mixed with dazzling melodies and vocal work. Even though some of it may seem too simplistic they never dip into the dangerous monotonous waters that bands of this genre tend to do a lot. Even with fourteen songs, lasting an hour, this never drags on. If you want to hear folk metal done properly, go get this. Highly recommended.

Killing Songs :
They all kill!
Thomas quoted 87 / 100
Goat 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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