I cannot remember how I came across this pagan/folk metal band from Russia. I only know that as soon as I heard the song, “Лица бессмертных богов” (Faces of Immortal Gods) off the 2009 album Goi, Rode, Goi!, I was completely hooked. Fronted by Masha Scream, a force of nature who somehow does both the singing and growling, Arkona mixes medieval folk melodies and instrumentation along with crushing heavy metal. The band has found the perfect combination of melodic clean vocals with just the right amount of black metal growling. And while many European bands in related genres choose to sing in English to broaden their appeal, all of Arkona’s lyrics, which are based around Russian folklore and Slavic mythology, are in their native language . The band itself is named after the last pagan Slavic city-state.
Though they were touring in support of their excellent 2014 LP, Yav, the band played songs from throughout their catalog. Highlights included the set opener of “Yav”, as well as “Goi-Rode-Goi!”, “Slovo” and the encore track, which was an epic version of “Yarilo”. And let me tell you – this was one really loud fucking show! Even after the three opening acts – Helsott, The Dread Crew of Oddwood, and Heidevolk (Netherlands)softened us up- Arkona still managed to pummel us for another 70 minutes!
The opening bands that night worked us over pretty good. First up was Helsott , a pagan/black-metal band from here in Southern California. Following them, after a short break to let our ears heal a bit, was The Dread Crew of Oddwood – an acoustic pirate-metal band (they call it “Hard Mahogany”!) from right here in San Diego. The third act, Heidevolk from the Netherlands, was another pagan/folk-metal group that featured two lead guitars AND two singers!