I have to admit that my exposure to the genre of music known as folk metal is rather limited, but what began in Europe in the 90's has over time certainly developed into one of metal's most flourishing sub-genres with bands such as Fintroll, Suidakra , Moonspell and Skyforger jumping to the forefront.
Arkona are a Russian outfit highly influenced by their native folklore as well as Slavic mythology. To date the band which began in 2002 has released five albums and their most recent effort Goi, Rode, Goi was issued last fall by Napalm Records.
Goi, Rode, Goi, which translates as Hail, Rod, Hail in reference to the Slavic god Rod who is regarded as the father of the universe, is an ambitious fourteen song collection that clocks in at almost eighty minutes! While my bare bones, cardboard sleeve, promo copy doesn't provide any details save for song titles, and to remind me that no less than ten tracks contain annoying voice-overs, I can tell you that the main highlight here is the fifteen minute " Na Moey Zemle (In My Land)", a track that features no less than five guest vocalists from different bands such as the aforementioned Skyforger (Latvia), Manegarm (Sweden), Obtest (Lithuania), Menhir (Germany) and Heidevolk (Netherlands). Each member contributes his or her vocals in their own native tongue, which makes for a pretty impressive and varied listen experience.
These guys do a great job throughout of successfully integrating the ethic instrumentation with massive amounts of pile driving blast beats and straight ahead guitar riffage. What is probably the most impressive thing about this band though is their secret weapon, female vocalist "Masha" Scream. She does a brilliant job alternating between soaring clean vocals, harsh screams and at times a very deep, guttural growl that you'd swear were being handled by a male.
There's a lot to digest here on Goi, Rode, Goi both musically and lyrically as everything is sung in Russian, so it's probably going to be a bit of an acquired taste, but if you're into folk metal from different countries and especially Russian folk metal then Arkona are definitely worth checking out.
1) Goi, Rode, Goi
2) Tropoiu Nevedannoi (On The Unknown Trail)
3) Nevidal (The Wonder)
4) Na Moey Zemle (In My Land)
5) Pritcha (The Parable)
6) V Tsepiakh Drevney Tainy (In Chains Of Ancient Mystery)
8) Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov (Faces Of Immortal Gods)
9) Kolo Navi (Kolo Of Nav)
11) Pamiat (The Memory)
14) Nebo Hmuroe, Tuchi Mrachniye (Sullen Sky Lurid Clouds)