Arkona: Yav

The Russian folk metal institution returns

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Coming after a slew of DVD and instrumental karaoke compilation(!) releases, Yav is Arkona’s first album for three years, quite some time for the usually prolific Russians. To be fair, it is a record that sounds like it has been constructed and recorded with a great deal of love and care.

No superficial folk metal fix, it is a long and varied listening experience and one that demands a certain degree of investment by the listener to reap its benefits.

Always leaning more towards grandeur and subtlety than many of their peers, Arkona are in many ways well placed; as the teenagers who grew up in the folk metal boom now hit their 20s, the need for something a bit more substantial obviously grows. Eschewing catchiness for a rich musical tapestry, slow-building songs and depth, the band nonetheless offer both high-paced fury, melancholy and even upbeat symphonics.

There’s also a definite cultural watermark throughout here – just as Emperor’s music has an inherently Nordic nature, Arkona’s Russian heritage is not only evident, but a key characteristic.