Arkona – Krahm

Arkona Khram

A black and white album cover showing three hooded figures, two with knives. On the background a starry sky or maybe eyes in the darkness. A gateway to another world and ravens to show the way. These elements can be seen on the appealing contemporary artwork that is the album cover of Krahm, the eight album by Russian pagan metal band Arkona, released this January.

The cover art immediately illustrates that with this album, the band ventures to a darker place. The listener, eager to follow, will find that the intro “Mantra” is immediately creating the right atmosphere. The album titles means “Temple”, and the purpose of “Mantra” seems to be to prepare the listener to enter this temple and to slowly move to the different world that is the album. Dark whispers and chanting give it a very earthy feeling, as if you are at the entrance of a windy cave. After almost four minutes the “Mantra” reaches its apex, after which an uncompromising wave of guitars and drums and eventually Masha’s amazing vocals.

There are still enough folk elements in the otherwise quite black sounding album. Flute, throat singing, some piano, they offer extra layers to the music and add Arkona’s charm. The lyrics are amazing throughout the album – unfortunately, non-Russians like me will have to do with the (excellent) translation. Any intricacies and details, which are doubtless in the original Russian lyrics, are lost to us. The lyrics are dark and raw, and no light and few happiness appears in them. It is a gloomy concept and Masha’s voice adds to the feeling of despair and longing. The tracks are all quite long. The third track “Tseluya zhizn’” (Kissing the Life) for example, is a 17 minute epic. The total length of the album is a proud 80 minutes of musical pleasure. If you would be worried that the album gets monotonous – no need. The different musical elements as well as interesting changes in pace and layered melodies will keep your interest for sure. The album ends the same as it started – with a “Mantra” – slowly showing the way out of the darkness, leaving a calm and slightly lonely feeling.

I immediately loved this new gem by the Russian quintet. Although the overall feeling and sound is quite a bit darker than I am used to by Arkona, it is somehow fitting in their musical development and it is also representative for the times we live in. All in all, Arkona delivered an impressive work of art and Krahm will definitely find a way into my collection.

Words by Tabitha
Label: Napalm Records
Release date: 19 January 2018

Rating: 9,5/10
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)