Arkona - Classic Grand Glasgow

Arkona came to Glasgow, and made the Classic Grand their own little bit of Russia, in an exhilarating and captivating live set. The band was founded in February 2002 in Russia. Arising out of the pagan metal scene, they are on this tour deservedly gaining enthusiastic new fans. Fronted by the incredible Maria "Masha Scream" Arkhipova on vocals, the combination of driving metal, and folk melodies and traditional instruments, is completely intoxicating.

The Classic Grand is perhaps the perfect venue for folk metal, combining as it does, intimacy and space to dance, with an almost classic dancehall feel. The band walks on to the stage to the quietly spoken words, and gentle harpsichord sound, that begins the title track from the new album Yav. With the band all standing with their backs to the audience, guitarist Sergei "Lazar" Atrashkevich advances to the front of the stage, and with a double crash of the cymbals, the most immense blast beat driven black metal sound crashes out from stage. What is immediately striking, is how effortlessly Masha Scream switches between death growl and the most melodic clean vocals, and how seamlessly the electric instruments fit with the traditional wind instruments, played by Vladimir "Volk" Reshetnikov.


Serbia, also from the new album Yav, has the most impassioned clean vocals from Masha Scream, full of emotion and yearning. It is driven by some great blast beats and drumming from Andrey Ishchenko, that seem to mirror the vocals, mixed in with the most incredibly atmospheric guitar. Really striking is the background vocal drone, somewhat like the famous 'Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares', which adds a really eerie feel. Just incredible!

Masha Scream has the complete attention of the Glasgow audience as she dances across the stage, urges the audience to join in with chants, or closes her eyes and holds her head down into the microphone. It's an astonishing performance.


Na Strazhe Novyh Let, also from the new album, has a great choppy bass rhythm from Ruslan "Kniaz" Rosomaherov, with Masha Scream throwing herself full on, into both clean and death growl vocals, with some great almost anthemic melodic lines. Bagpipes punctuate the sound, and it has this wondrous danceability, as the audience and band head bang in complete unison

Slav'sja, Rus' is a song about Russia announces Masha Scream, as she leads the audience in a chant of hey..hey..hey, and hits her bodhran like drum with no restraint. The song has a fabulous mournful quality, both sad and uplifting; with Volk's whistle adding beautifully to the poignancy.

It is impossible not to get swept up with the sheer emotional power of Arkona's live sound, and the infectious dancing melodies and rhythms, and at times poignant sadness in the music. All of course infused with a raucous black metal underpinning. Folk metal too often comes in for a lot of criticism from the metal press. Music like Arkona's is both in the best traditions of metal, but also unafraid to mix other influences in with it. Listen to the new album and discover this exciting music for yourself. One of the gigs of the year!