Live at The Echoplex

Los Angeles, CA

May 26th, 2017

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Arkona are one of the most renown pagan folk metal bands in the world and the fact that they hail out of Russia sets them apart from their peers both in terms of the mythos that backs their historic inspiration, but also in the approach they have to their performance as well.

Akrona is centered around the enigmatic but absolutely mesmerizing front woman, Masha. She embodies polar opposites composed into one amazing force of nature. At times she is aggressive, domineering, and you would be hard pressed to know the gender of the singer without observation.

Other moments she sings beautifully and eloquently and her expression changes to match the character of the song. In short, an exemplary performer, who can regress into the emotional expression that went through her mind in the raw moment of creation.

I have been a fan of Arkona for many years now, and have been fortunate to see them on a number of their stops through Los Angeles. I encourage taking a moment to check out my past documentation to see their amazing history, but one thing you will notice - they have never strayed from their initial interpretation of the world as they see it.

They maintain that integrity but expand on it with each globe-spanning tour they do. The best moments were the two songs that Masha announced that were brand new. They both seemed to be far more introspective and moody, almost lending gothic beauty touched with melancholy. These were both really moving and amazing.

They did a number of songs from their debut album, as they have reached the fifteen year mark and were touring in anniversary celebration. Fans enjoyed songs that they may have been a part of from their initial release, or experienced the things they missed getting to this point.

In addition to the songs of their origin, they also did a number of favorites from throughout their career. Still to this day, my absolute favorite song is "Zakliatie", and it was just as amazing this time as all of the other times I have seen them before. Arkona have an energy that is contagious and addictive. I love seeing them live, and will do so any time they journey into my proximity.

Masha is an amazing vocalist, often going into a near trace-like state while singing her songs, fairly oblivious to her surroundings. She would address the crowd in between songs, and spoke in harsh, growled tones, briefly stating their appreciation and love for their fans or introducing a song.

Arkona sing entirely in Russian, but the empathic response to their music is felt despite the language barriers. One of the things that set Arkona apart is the fact that they do not cater to an audience's knowledge of their mythology. This seemingly exponentiates their impact by addressing the soul and bypassing potential intellectual barriers of resistance.

Not to sell anyone short, the excellent musicians involved on stage are Sergei "Lazar" Atrashkevich on guitars and Ruslan "Kniaz" Rosomaherov on bass guitar, both of whom have been with Masha since the beginning.

Joining them are Vladimir "Volk" Reshetnikov on lutes, flutes, bag-pipes and any other ethnic instrument used. Andrey Ishchenko has been playing drums with them for a number of years now, and completes the quintet.

I am a fan, and loved seeing them again. I encourage everyone to at least check out "Zakliatie" and see what you think. From there, you most likely will expand your horizons to their entire range of styles and levels of aggression mixed with beauty.

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