Arkona - Goi, Rode, Goi!
Napalm Records
Pagan/Black/Folk Metal
14 songs (79:47)
Release year: 2009
Arkona, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Thomas

Arkona, the ever so stellar, slightly obscure yet leading Russian Folk/Pagan metal band was finally picked up by a major label a couple of years ago. Our first treat off of Napalm Records was released last year and is called Goi, Rode, Goi or Hail, Rod, Hail for those of us who don't know Russian very well. Arkona's back catalogue is extremely stellar, and their last effort, Ot Serdsta K Nebu topped off a solid effort over the previous five years. With Goi, Rode, Goi expectations were flying high, the rapidly rising star on the pagan metal sky have so far progressed from every album, the latest exceeding the former in sound and production, quality in terms of song-writing and maturity. With this they honour the Slavic Gods and mythology with another damn fine and enthralling album.

The first thing that struck me when I put this on was the much improved screams and overall of vocalist and high chanter Masha “Scream”. She has easily become one of the absolute best female vocalists in the business. She includes fearsome, raspy, gnarling screams, breathtaking growls, and a hands down brilliant clean voice that fits the folk bits perfectly. She carries the torch high, and it amazes me how very few metal-heads have spotted the glimmering flames from the east. She's not the only one that has improved though as I find drummer Vlad “Artist” to be much more of a contributor on this one with deadly breaks and insane twists and turns. The album consists of a wide array of tracks, and may be a tad bit too long. Roughly 80 minutes of raw and epic folk-y pagan metal is quite a lot, and sitting still and listening isn't always as easy even though the album itself is compelling enough.

It is however easy to look past small flaws when you have tracks like the lively, energetic, melodic and intense title-track, the vastly black metal influenced Troppoiu Nevedannoi that sprawls with tremolo riffs as well as a great deal of folk music and enchanting melodies weaved in. The first real highlight comes blasting out of your speakers as number four, namely the mighty, majestic, adventurous epic Na Moey Zemle which may just be the best song they have ever written and performed. The chants, magnificent atmosphere, slightly operatic male vocals, shapeshifting, the strings, and fantastic handling of every other folk instrument that I didn't even know existed defends the rating alone. Every band member is peaking on this very song, and will definitely leave a great feeling in your gut as the album goes on. From here things get a little more upbeat, as especially Yarilo provides a major Finntroll-vibe with happy polka rhythms, flutes and accordions. This will either get you off your chair and dance or leave you planting your palm firmly in your face. I'm somewhere in between though, it's damn fun, but I'd pick their harsher stuff over this any day. Especially since I'm not particularly fond of the clowns in either Korpiklaani or Finntroll. After a couple of unremarkable tunes, Kolo Navi kicks in with the usual pagan, black metal elements mixed in with the ever so folkish sounds and melodies. Great guitar-work and huge-sounding choirs blends in and makes for another highlight that should catch a possibly drifting attention. I'm not going into detail about the following tracks as I'm pretty sure you'd know what to expect. The last 10-minuter Nebo Hmuroe, Tuchi Mrachniye however, closes down the album with slower riffs and for the most part clean vocals. Though not as, in lack of a better term, sick, as the other clocker it chants and chugs its way enjoyably to the end where oceanic sounds and bird-tweeting takes over.

There's not much more to say than that this is another great, if not spectacular effort from the Pagan Russians. Though it's too long and the fact that the sound is a little dry, the quality here is undeniable and no doubt saves a good pile of points for the album. Some of the songs could've been left out, and yes there is filler, but I don't care. This is still a more than a worthy pick-up and a must-have for pagan/folk metal-fans. You know what? Go get this even if you don't like the genre. It's fucking great.

Killing Songs :
Goi, Rode, Goi, Tropoiu Nevedannoi, Na Moey Zemle, Yaroli, Kolo Navi
Thomas quoted 89 / 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 - Ot Serdtsa K Nebu reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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