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Arkona - A Decade of Glory
CD Reviews
Written by Max Levites   
Thursday, 21 February 2013
Arkona - CD Review
A Decade of Glory
Arkona - A Decade of Glory

CD Info
Napalm Records / Austria
31  Tracks
Russian Lyrics

Arkona’s rise in the metal scene over the last couple years has been spectacular. Since signing to Napalm Records, they went from an obscure folk-metal band from Moscow to sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in the genre across Europe, touring the US twice, and playing a coveted slot at MFVF X. Yet, this band has actually been around for quite a while. Ten years, in fact, and it’s an accomplishment that they’re celebrating with the release of a new live album. A Decade of Glory, though, is not just any live album. The performance in question was recorded at a special concert in Moscow, where Arkona played a career-spanning medley of songs backed by a string quartet, a nine-piece backing choir, and two background vocalists. Now, if you’ve ever seen Arkona live, you’ll know that they put on a high-energy, fun-filled performance, and every time I’ve seen them in concert (never headlining, unfortunately), they’ve stolen the show. Well, if you could steal your own show, then Arkona would have done that here too, performing epic new arrangements of songs from all six of their albums while bringing the same energy that just makes you want to bang your head/Cossack-dance around the room along with the music.

The show starts off with "Arkaim" and its intro track "Az’" from the most recent album Slovo. Immediately, you feel the energy in the hall as the crowd chants the band’s name. Though it’s not quite like being there yourself, it’s basically the next best thing (If you turn the volume up high enough and close your eyes, there’s practically no difference. Just make sure you’re alone to avoid the embarrassment of someone catching you attempting to mosh alone in your room and/or don’t crash your car while driving to it and having way more fun than anyone else on the road). The strings and the choir add an interesting new element to the live performance and the new arrangements add a new depth to some of the older songs like "Marena," "Maslenitsa," and the classic "Rus’". In fact, a lot of the songs sound even better live than on record, while live-hits like "Yarilo," "Leshiy," and "Stenka na Stenku," are still just as fun as they are when you actually see the band in concert. Of course, I can’t go into the merits of every song because there are 31 tracks on this album. That’s right, 31. This concert (spread over two disks) lasts for more than two and a half hours! Now, sadly, that’s a little too much to listen to in one sitting, but think of it more as a Best of Arkona compilation, presented to you live and revamped with new arrangements.

If you’ve never heard of Arkona before, A Decade of Glory might be too big to swallow in one bite, and perhaps you should start with the band’s most recent full-length, Slovo. But if you’re a fan of the band, this is certainly a must-have release! However, it’s no substitute for actually seeing them live, so if you get a chance to catch them perform, don’t pass it up!

9 / 10

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