2004 was the year that Arkona caused a small earthquake in the folk metal scene with their debut album Vozrozhdenie, which can be translated as ‘revival’. With this album, Arkona put themselves and their motherland Russia on the map of heavy metal. The band succeeded in winning the pagan hearts of many a folk metalhead with their intense Slavic tunes and melodic metal, accompanied by the powerful vocals of main singer Masha Scream. In November 2016, Arkona released a re-recording of their debut album and showed how they evolved during those 12 years.
The most striking difference with the original album would be the quality of the production. The 2016 version sounds much smoother. The drums and flutes play a more dominant role. From time to time you’ll even get to hear genuine death metal. You can clearly hear that the band members greatly improved their technical skills. Especially Masha sounds different, and with that I mean that she sings much lower than on the first album. Some people will like it, but I prefer her ‘lighter’ voice because it adds to the energy and authenticity of the songs. This development is clearly audible on Brate-Slavyane. Zov-predkov is another track that had some striking changes. But this time for the better! The intro sounds more haunting and the guitar parts sound heavier than before. It’s probably the most atmospheric number from this album. Arkona also dropped two tracks before the official release. The title track Vozrozhdenie was released as a lyric video and one of my personal favourites Pod-Mechami was released as an audio track. You can find them both below, sing and dance along!
Even though I must admit that the Russian language might be a bit of a problem if you want to sing along, but that doesn’t make the music less enjoyable. Arkona proved with Vozrozhdenie that they produce authentic, wild folk metal that conquered metal hearts from all over the world. This re-recording is most certainly an improvement when it comes to the production and the band members’ musical skills. If you’re an Arkona newbie I would suggest listening to the original version. This album has something very raw to it, which makes this musical experience according to me more interesting than the one on the re-recording. However, the 2016 version is a nice representation of what the band is capable of. Those who are already familiar with the band can feast their ears on this new version for its smoother sound. There’s certainly something in it for everyone with an interest in folk metal. Oh yes, the artwork is done by our fellow Belgian Kris Verwimp, yet another reason to buy the album!
Release date: November 11th, 2016
Label: Napalm Records
3. K domu Svaroga
4. Chernye Vorony
7. Brate slavyane
9. Pod mechami
10. Po zverinym tropam
12. Zov predkov