Live at The Whisky a Go Go
Los Angeles, CA
September 11th, 2019
Review and photos by Travis Baumann
Arkona return to North America for the second leg of their Pagan Rebellion tour. Promoting last year's release of their eighth studio album, "Khram", they are playing extensively through out the US and Canada - headlining with support from fellow pagan enthusiasts, Metsatöll out of Estonia.
Arkona are world renowned for their embracing of the pagan mythos and Slavic folklore as well as incorporating the traditional sounds through instrumentation and vocalization into their metal compositions.
The band is led by the enigmatic front-woman, Maria "Masha Scream" Arkhipova, who moves between tribalistic chanting to melodic, heartfelt verse, juxtaposed with extreme growled vocals - usually all within one song.
Joining Masha on stage are her long-time folk metal partners; Sergei "Lazar" Atrashkevich on guitars, Ruslan "Kniaz" Rosomaherov on bass guitar, Vladimir "Volk" Reshetnikov on bag pipes and various ethnic wind instruments, and Andrey Ishchenko on drums.
The "Khram" album embodies the more spiritual/tribal side of Arkona and really sets the tone for tonight's performance. The first part of their set was taken entirely from this album, starting with the "Mantra" introduction, moving on to the much heavier "Shtorm" and then to the grand tale, "Tseluya zhizn" which means "kissing life", and clocks in at nearly seventeen minutes.
They played the title track, "Khram" which means "temple" before the epic piece, "V pogonye za beloy tenyu" which translates to "In Pursuit of a White Shadow". They concluded this portion with a reprise of "Mantra" as an outro.
This tour featured an extensive amount of the more tribalistic singing accompanied at times by minimalistic percussion-heavy instrumentation that segwayed between the larger portions of the set list.
After dwelling in the "Khram" for the first part of the set, they moved on to some older material as well as some brand new material (or at least extremely different takes on classics that made them unidentifiable).
They started off with the fan-favorite, "Goi, rode, goi!" which induced the mosh as it must. I was happy to see a lot of women in the audience and joining in the pit at times as well. Masha is a strong role model and an amazing talent who is widening the audience for folk metal and extreme metal in general.
"Zakliatie" remains my all time favorite song of Arkona's and it was once again the pinnacle of their set for me. Not to say the rest of the set wasn't amazing, as it was, but this song always has such a shamanistic, tribal power to it that it always resonates deep within.
Fans of Arkona love to mosh to certain songs and they obliged the die hards with pit favorites such as "Stenka na Stenku" and of course the sing-along inducing "Yarilo".
It was a moving performance by Arkona and one that was a bit different than the many times I have seen them before. There was a much moodier, darker atmosphere to the set, especially the first half, as "Khram" is not as much all out metal and moshing that previous albums have been. They have always had this side to them, but the new album indulges it more than ever before.
I personally really loved the set and enjoy the evolution of their sound. Masha used to save these more gothic expressions for her side project, Nargathrond, but she has not focused on that in some time so it only makes sense for it to infiltrate Arkona.
This was at least my fifth time seeing them live and I am always left with a sense of awe from Masha's performance. She is like a mad shaman, conjuring the spirits of the past and invoking the legends and tales that still resonate with modern culture. I highly recommend checking Arkona out. They are a moving and powerful force, especially live.
Click the banner above
to return the navigation page of the
Virtual Night Angel