2018 Best of Metal: #15 Arkona-Khram

Release Date:  January 19, 2018

Personnel:  Maria “Masha Scream” Arkhipova-vocals, Sergei “Lazar” Atrashkevich-guitar, Ruslan “Kniaz” Rosomaherov-bass, Vladimir “Volk” Reshetnikov-wind/ethnic instruments, Andrey Ishchenko-drums

Origin:  Moscow, Russia

Pagan metal and folk metal are a couple of sub-genres in which the line between cheese and awesome is very thin.  There are a lot of bands in these sub-genres that completely jump the shark in their embrace of a weird mixture of over-the-top power metal tropes with traditional native and ancient style instruments.  A lot of time these bands are just a little too jaunty and goofy for me to take all that seriously.

Arkona, on the other hand, deliver the goods as far as pagan metal goes.  They manage to blend traditional Russian instruments with a dark death metal sound and the result is something meaty.  Their latest album, Khram, does a really nice job of using traditional instruments and pagan tales with a forward thinking and progressive sound to the metal elements on the album.  There is a ton of diversity on this record and I really think that it is one of mine favorite all-time pagan albums.

4 flip flops out of 5

The list so far:

15.  Arkona-Khram
16.  Agrimonia-Awaken
17.  Between the Buried and Me-Automata I & II
18.  Clutch-Book of Bad Decisions
19.  Harakiri For The Sky-Arson
20.  Behemoth-I Loved You At Your Darkest

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