ARKONA - "KOB" ALBUM REVIEW
After one of the longest breaks in between albums, Arkona's release of "Kob" proved to be worth the wait. The name of this record translates as Sorcery (loyal to their pagan roots) and it is out via Napalm Records.
The new direction that we already partly experienced in their previous release "Khram" has now finally bloomed into a meticulous yet theatrical final product. If some of the pagan folk metal fans were disappointed by the much harsher direction, this album has definitely staked its claim for jarring black metal soundscapes. In doing so, the band managed to create a unique brand of music that sits in between the ethereal and the infernal. It's mystic, intellectually stimulating, and it holds the listeners spellbound.
This is an album that offers no compromises and showcases their vision and sonic ideas with firm intent. it doesn't shy away from technical and stylistic complexities, and it definitely rewards the more patient and adventurous listeners. If you are stuck with traditional black metal this album may not be for your ears.
The title track "Kob" is a primary example of their stylistic melting pot. it starts out with traditional black metal guitars and drumming, and it later on shifts to ritualistic chanting and spiritual grooving synths. Just when you get accustomed to to the repetitive rhythm, you are thrown into a full on progressive black metal/ ambient labyrinth.
The second track is the longest one, and also one of my personal favourites: "Ydi". This is an electronically infused operatic piece, framed by one of the most exquisite guitar solos of the year. Here we find everything that Arkona is and has become. it's a testament to their music identity and affirmation. One listen will not be enough, two listens will not be enough either. It's a composition to savour with multiple bites and an open mind. This spectacular folk anthem sets the stage for a great multitude of different sections, ranging from Masha's ethereal vocals to dynamic growling and ritualistic chanting.
If you needed another example of how Arkona transcends languages then "Mor" totally depicts the concept. This is one of the most atmospheric tracks and I would describe it as a conglomerate of different sonic ideas overlapping, yet never sounding random or out of place. It holds that feeling of "grandeur", universality, and inevitability, like the end of an era. The progressions are so epic and rich that at the end of it you just want to listen to it again!
The artistic and music variety in this album is truly impressive. The gothic opening piano sonata in "Razryvaya plot ot bezyskhodnosti bytiya" is another highlight moment. All in all, every single track on this album leaves you curious and hungry for more listens. it is probably impossible to uncover all the details, turns, and progressions at once, and when that is the case, I usually have found a great album.