Album Releases Album Reviews

Arkona – Khram Review

Released by: Napalm Records

Release Date: January 19th, 2018

Genre: Folk Metal

Links: http://www.arkona-russia.com

 

Line Up:

Masha “Scream” – voice \
Sergei “Lazar” – guitar \
Ruslan “Kniaz” – bass \
Andrey Ischenko – drums \
Vladimir “Volk” – wind ethnic instruments

 

Tracklist:

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. Volchitsa
9. Mantra (Outro)

 

Hailing from Russia, Arkona’s eighth studio effort Khram has finally arrived on January 19th via Napalm Records. Prior to the release, we knew that the album would be dark, considering the fact that the name Khram is Russian for the word temple. This term for temple is one that is shrouded in mysticism slumbering behind nocturnal treetops, yet open to everyone. Khram brought all band members together, to combine multiple musical elements ranging from their original blackened pagan style to adding folk elements along the way. With Khram, the group has stepped far away from Slovo and Goi, Rode, Goi!, while raising their production bar with the use of different arrangements by adding real brass and wind instruments.

The album kicks off with “Mantra (Intro)” as the chanting initially sets the blackened/pagan theme. “Shtorm,” is the first official song as it starts out with heavy extremities that make the listener instantly engaged. Speaking of engaged, it’s not always easy to capture one’s attention especially with a song that’s over fifteen minutes in length. However, the third track “Tseluya zhizn,'” is arguably the best song on the record and it clocks just over 17 minutes. There are at least five different melodies ranging from extreme, folk, melodic to blackened chants that would make you not want the song to end. At this point, one would assume this would be a near flawless record, however, its strength didn’t fully sustain itself with the next tune “Rebionok bez imeni.” Its long and sluggish introduction would make one question the direction of this track alone, as it moves to a darker and heavier rhythm four minutes in. Essentially, you have to be patient with this tune as it tends to grow on you five minutes later.

As the LP reaches it’s near halfway mark with the title track, the melody focuses on more harsh and distorted guitar movements, as chaotic breakdowns soon appear during this ill-tempered-like piece. The next song, “V pogonie za beloj ten’yu,” cools things down as it starts off with somber-like piano keys. However, this doesn’t last long as it moves back to a blackened tempo two minutes later. As the record comes closer to a close, it’s safe to say that “V ladonyah bogov” concludes the albums blackened style while “Volchitsa” is the finale for its folk-spiritualistic aesthetic. Finally, Khram ends just as it began with a chanting “Mantra” outro, making it seem somewhat-seamless.

Arkona has evolved, as this album has reawakened their blackened pagan style. It does require a few listens to fully grasp the entire piece. Despite not understanding the language, the overall dark emotion is there and it’s nearly impossible to miss. The best part of Khram is seeing the group stepping up a few notches on their production quality, which somehow mixes both their raw sound with a meticulous composition.

 

Rating: 8/10

Written by,

Zenae D. Zukowski  

 

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