Arkona - Live For the Glory (Vic Records/Riot)

Ahhh, you gotta love a bit of live Slavic pagan/folk metal, but Russian goth rock? Are they taking the piss?

I found this a surprising package to receive. A live album from 2006, 3 demo tracks and an entire Nargathrond album (Inevitability) from 2004. Unique? Fans of folk/pagan metal out there are becoming increasingly familiar with Arkona's work - I for one love good slavic metal - and I rank Arkona right up there. But Nargarhrond? We'll get to that beast soon. First, Arkona live.

 

From the intro we hear the exotic strains of a traditional slavic instrument and the accompanying chant from the crowd 'Arkona! Arkona! Arkona!' Yes, they obviously have many fans at the show. Then it's into Through a Fog of Centuries, one of my favourites from Vo Slavu Velikim. The crowd appears to be really getting into it, responding to Masha 'Scream's' invitations to join in. This song sets the scene for the rest of the recording. It is surprisingly well produced and clear, everything you want in a live album - you can still hear the crowd and atmosphere, which I find essential, otherwise why bother recording live in the first place?

 

It's everything you'd expect from Arkona. Russian folk melodies combined with metal of varying heaviness. Masha's female vocals ranging through the traditional, to the guttural growls and black screams. Like a live recording of Vo Slavu Velikim, except this time interspersed with the ubiquitous live 'oy! oy! oy! oy!' and the occasional speaking to the crowd. As it's in Russian I have no idea what she is saying. But that only serves to increase my enjoyment even more - on a superficial level it makes it just that bit more foreign. Some people may be put off by the fact that the language is inaccessible; I pity them. Overall the live component of this package is definitely satisfying. Included is On the Crude Ground, and Anger of Times amongst other Arkona standards, a thumbs up for sure. You can even hear the fans singing along to the chorus of Russia. The Red Army Choir they aren't, but it does lend atmosphere.

 

The three songs Kolyada, Solstice and Russia, appearing on the Russia demo from 2002, seem to be just so much filler for the live CD. Indeed they seem a let down after the previous, live, energy. This is not to say they aren't good songs, but maybe it's just the wrong place to put them.

 

Now, on to the previously mentioned: Nargathrond's Inevibility. Geez, how to remain diplomatic...

 

Nargathrond is a side project of Arkona, with all members and the addition of another lead guitarist. This is not metal. It is gothic rock. Yes, Russian gothic rock. I cant say too much for it, as it is not a genre I enjoy or particularly respect. One thing it had going for it is the foreign language. I don't want to know the lyrics. It sounds like the bastard offspring of The Cure crossed with a Russian Eurovision Song Contest entrant. I just wish they were taking the piss. Maybe they thought they could open up a new audience with it, but I doubt the likely success.

 

But, if you like goth rock, and would like to hear Masha (usually) 'Scream' doing straight pop vocals; Nargathrond may just be for you.

Arkona's Live for the Glory is out now on Vic/Riot.