Arkona (RUS)
Khram


4.0
excellent

Review

by Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (218 Reviews)
January 26th, 2018 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Pagan black metal goodness.

I’ll admit off the bat that I find other languages fascinating when they’re represented musically. Most of the time it adds to a level of mysticism, building on that foreign element whilst highlighting one simple fact; I don’t know everything. From understanding that broad statement, it creates a wonder when listening to other languages. It’s like witnessing an occult ritual, without knowing what’s going on and yet, completely unable to look away. Arkona’s eighth studio record defines this niche for me as a listener while simultaneously highlights Khram as one of 2018’s premier metal releases so early in the year.

At a first glance, it’s pretty easy to dismiss Khram as yet another black metal record with obvious “pagan” influences but fortunately Arkona’s execution allows for the (almost) seventy-five minute run time to translate into an excellent foray into what these Slavic-Russians are capable of. At Khram’s core is an opus of controlled musical virtuosity, building into an opus of sound while only suffering in small part to some minor “filler” work. Arkona’s 2018 work revels in a melodic approach to primal black metal that respects its pagan elements, rather than forcing a cliché sound down the throats of its listeners. Khram is a cohesive, welcome release improving on Arkona’s back catalogue, while respecting the very influences that allow such an album to exist.

For the English [only] speakers, who (like me) went looking for more insight into Khram, or Temple as it translates showcases a centralised theme surrounding Slavic mythic, celestial beings, life/death as well as a host of other tying features. Of particular note is the record’s longest track ‘Tseluya Zhizn’ (‘Kissing Life’) clocking in at just over seventeen minutes building on the very basis of Arkona’s monolithic soundscapes and in turn helps represent Khram as an opus not to be taken lightly this year or the next. The track itself showcases a host of sounds, contrasting from section to section while tying in with the record’s theme. Traditional layerings of stereotypical black metal, filled to the brim with blast beats tie in with atmospheric minimalism and pagan influences. From frenzied riff work to galvanizing folkened tid-bits, Arkona are coming full circle, eight albums from the debut. In places Khram can be downright catchy, without becoming pretentious.

Despite how well put together Arkona’s latest full-length is, there are some minor flaws to be mentioned. At seventy-five minutes Khram runs into the usual problems of maintaining listenability. New listeners can become ‘lost’ within certain sections, while losing where they are through the record. One track may blend into the next as the record’s minor filler work blurs the lines between sections. The trick is to allow you as a listener to become fully immersed in the deepening sound, pushing past what can only be considered as a small gripe.

With repeated listens, Khram gains further depth, heightening the quality of each listen as more of the album reveals itself. The ‘blackened’ sections take point over the ‘pagan’ elements but tie together. It seems the four years between records has done this Russian-based band a whole lot of good. Khram is fresh, well thought out and a welcome addition to the band’s catalogue. Overall it’s a wonder that Arkona don’t have a larger following, but chances are that Khram can become the gateway record for new fans.



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user ratings (22)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 26th 2018


7767 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Morning all.

Digging: Erdve - Vaitojimas

Dewinged
January 26th 2018


8354 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh nice! Tx for reviewing this Noct! Album is bliss.

Digging: Erdve - Vaitojimas

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 26th 2018


7767 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You’re welcome, it was either this or another Machine Head review

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2018


11098 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Sweet write-up, album rules.



Edit: (:





Digging: Usurpress - Interregnum

BallsToTheWall
January 26th 2018


48332 Comments


Need to hear. Arkona is a top 5 live show.

Digging: The Ukiah Drag - Crypt Cruiser

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
January 26th 2018


2462 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review man. Arkona have always been my favourite folk/pagan metal band but with this release I honestly think they've taken a bold step forwards. There's a strong resemblance to the "Goi, Rode, Goi!" (not just the length but the way in which black metal is performed with other styles) but at the same time new influences have appeared, most notably the ambient sections in "V pogonie za beloj ten’yu" which translate really well I feel. I also loved the sombre intro to "V ladonyah bogov" and Masha's vocal delivery as always proves to be a very fitting accompaniment.





Digging: Erdve - Vaitojimas

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 26th 2018


7767 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good spot Scuro, mid word fixed



Hi Rob : )

kingdedethefifth
January 30th 2018


5463 Comments


Good review my man! I suppose I will have to get on this, eh?

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 30th 2018


7767 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Why not? There’s nothing wrong with listening to more metal : ]

Essence
February 16th 2018


6011 Comments


budget nokturnal mortum

Dewinged
February 17th 2018


8354 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There isn't nothing budget about this u nut, this is a delicacy.

Essence
February 18th 2018


6011 Comments


did i stutter

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 19th 2018


7767 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hard to tell with typed comments

Hawks
February 19th 2018


53652 Comments


Damn haven't jammed these guys in like 10 years.

Digging: Rur - Rur

Dewinged
February 19th 2018


8354 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's time Hawks. You'll be surprised.

Essence
February 19th 2018


6011 Comments


ya got me, i was stutterin like crazy when typing that

but it's still budget norkturnal mortum

DungeonBoy
February 19th 2018


3704 Comments


Oh boy, didn't even know this was out. Jammin now. Maria Arkhipova is my hero.

Digging: Fabrizio Paterlini - The Art of the Piano



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