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Title: Goi, Rode, Goi
Artist: Arkona
Genre:  Pagan, Rock
Release Date: 30th October 2009
Label: Napalm Records

Album Review

This Pagan rock band from Russia has it's roots stretching as far back as 2002, when two like minded members of the Pagan community decided to come together to form a band which reflected both their musical preferences and their beliefs. After the usual issues with forming a new band subsided they went on to great success and to record four albums with this being their fifth.

The opening opus, the album namer 'Goi, Rode, Goi' is a sterling tale of warriors, shipwrecked and freezing, who pray to the wind to take a message of their deaths home to their loved ones. It's a musically strong opening track with crashing waves that create a really good atmosphere upon which to craft their song and sets the flavour for the whole album of good tight musicianship, diverse instrumentation and unsettlingly good vocals, both male and female. 'Yarilo' starts off with really enthusiastic accordion and pipe soon to be joined by a fast and engaging female vocal which in turns gives way to a virile male voice. This is a really energetic song celebrating the re-emergence of the Slavic sun god Yarilo after the dark days of winter and is beautifully performed.

'Nevidal' (The Wonder) is a very folky feeling track initially, but it soon gives way to extremely metal, raucus tones as it tells the tale of a premonition a young girl has as to the fate that befalls her country. I must say at this point, that I'm uber taken with the way that this band manage to draw on their folklore and legends without once becoming bogged down in seeming clichéd. This is a really nice track. ‘A Moey Zemle' (In My Land) is the story of a warrior who seeks happiness in foreign lands and does not find it until he has returned to his own land. It has a nice plain chant feel to it, with interesting rhythms and contra rhythms flowing throughout it and deep, dark strings that make this, for me, the best track on the album.

Where the previous track was very simple and beautifully constructed, 'Pricha' for me is a weak spot on the album. It sounds disjointed and slightly contrived, but is none the less flawlessly played and is not really a bad track, it's just the other tracks are so good and this is not quite up to their par. The introduction to 'V Tsepiakh Drevney Tainy' (In Chains of Ancient Mystery) leads us into a very hard driving track with solid drums and clean, gorgeous female vocals overlaid by a near demonic male voice which, although harsh and heavy, doesn't detract at all from the delicate tune. The beginning of 'Tropoiu Nevedannoi' (On the Unknown Trail ), a large and discordant track, charts the fall to madness of a man. The subject matter means that the band can utilise every dark and discordant fibre they can lay their hands on, and they do. The drums and guitar work are spectacular and vocals as strong as ever.

'Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov' (Faces of Immortal Gods) is an interesting offering, with often near whispered vocals that hiss and tug at you, interspersed as they are with wailed passages detailing the tragic story of a person devoid of life meaning who stares into the abyss and sees no reason for living. It's a beautifully crafted song, with a haunting tune overlaying a very hard metal backing which seems remarkably not at all at odds with the weaving folk tunes that scuttle though it. 'Kolo Navi' is the story of a slain warrior who watches his own burial and the grief of his family, and prays that they might find comfort in knowing he is present and still near to them. This is a very insistent tune, which thunders along with crashing guitars and interesting instrumentals. A lovely track!

The instrumental 'Korochun' begins with heartbreaking pipes, ethereal and haunting, before a deep bass drum and other ethnic instruments come to join it. I love this track, it's a masterpiece of good musicianship, simple and unpretentious and thoroughly engaging. 'Pamiat' (The Memory) asks that the old Gods return the ancient memories, faith and knowledge to their present day worshippers. It a very fast track, folky in feel, with a nice line in speedy pipes and some lovely choral effects. A superb track! 'Kupalets' is a ritual fire, lit on the summer solstice and this is a near chant in praise of it. The initial lack of instruments (barring a drum) makes it possible to enjoy the really superb vocals that this band have and the choral effects that they have put to good use. When the instruments do join it they still don't overwhelm what is, essentially, a vocal petition, and it's really beautifully put together.

'Arkona' was a spiritual centre of the old Slavic tradition, destroyed by the Christians in 1168 and this tells of how the Slavic Pagan community considers it to be merely sleeping in ruins, its knowledge still intact. It has blisteringly strong vocals, hard and heavy rhythms and is a defiant shout to time, that nothing is ever truly gone. ‘Nebo Hmuroe, Tuchi Mrachniye' (Sullen Sky Lurid Clouds) is sung initially unaccompanied and is the tale of a lonely heartbroken girl whose lover is dead in battle and, unable to continue alone, she drowns herself. When a surprisingly heavy backing joins in you find yourself almost sorry, because the simple singing was so nice, yet this backing grows and grows into a driving, flowing nag that tugs at you until it once again fades and the vocal takes centre again, with elaborate and gorgeous harmonies. A truly beautiful track and a very, very worthy album closer that ends with the sound of a stream flowing and birds singing!

It's fair to say that Arkona are beyond good, they're superb. I like this genre, but of the bands within it that I have heard, you would be hard pressed to beat them. The sound quality is extremely good, the setlist well thought out and both the vocals and music hard to fault. They have many carefully chosen guest musicians on this album, all of whom add nothing but further excellence. Sung entirely in Russian, please don't let this put you off, for if you do, you'll miss something truly remarkable. Kudos to all involved in the making of this, it's a masterpiece.


01. Goi, Rode, Goi!
02. Yarilo
03. Nevidal (The Wonder)
04. Na Moey Zemle (In My Land)
05. Pritcha (The Parable)
06. V Tsepiakh Drevney Tainy (In Chains of Ancient Mystery)
07.Tropoiu Nevedannoi (On the Unknown Trail )
08. Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov (Faces of Immortal Gods)
09. Kolo Navi  (Kolo of Nav)
10. Korochun
11. Pamiat  (The Memory)
12. Kupalets
13. Arkona
14. Nebo Hmuroe, Tuchi Mrachniye  (Sullen Sky Lurid Clouds)


Masha "Scream" - Vocals
Sergei "Lazar" - Guitar
Ruslan "Kniaz" - Bass
Vlad "Artist" - Drums
Vladimir "Volk" - Wind Ethnic Instruments

Website /



Music: 9
Sound: 9
Extras: -
Total: 9 / 10


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