Released: 2014, Napalm Records
Slavic sounds formed the foundations of early releases, such as VO SLAVU VELIKIM! and OT SERDSE K NEBU, but YAV’ has moved away from the use of choirs and strings (mostly), relying on vocals, guitar and traditional (medieval) instruments to give the album an overall more European pagan metal sound.
The lyrics, however, are still sung in Russian although it’s not the classical Russian I remember. I might be wrong, but I think this Russian is an older tongue, a village-type dialect which is cleverly chosen for the nature of Arkona’s lyrics and metal subgenre. Or possibly liberties are taken with words similar to the style adopted by classic Russian writers to keep the rhythm of a poem flowing.
The first song “Zarozhdenie” starts with the Slavic tones of Arkona-past. Bass monastic-style chants awaken your ears, but then the song moves away from the Slavic tones. Keyboards are present in this album but the samples used seem to enhance the pagan metal theme.
“Na strazhe novyh let” is a song about guardians of the new era/years living in YAV’. From this song (as well as the title song) we get a connection to the CD title. When it first started I thought my player had shuffled and I was listening to Turisus, before the growl vocals started. Once they did, any similarity vanished.
The song “Serbia” is a song to a goddess of that name, rather than the country (methinks). The emotion in Scream’s (Masha’s) voice transcends needing to understand the imploring nature of the song’s lyrics. “Zov pustyh dereven” includes guest violinist Olli Vänskä from Turisas.
“Gorod snov” (City of Dreams) is one of the songs on YAV’ that showcases Arkona’s singing diversity, with clean, speaking and growl vocals. The traditional folk instruments Arkona use start to become more obvious to the ear.
“Ved’ma” (Witch) is a dual voice and dual language song. I can’t figure out what the other language is but as the guest vocalist is Thomas Väänänen from Thyrfing I might guess Swedish or Finnish. “Chado indigo” (Indigo Child) starts with fluid piano before the contrasting rhythm and vocals take over.
The epic title song YAV’ starts with softly spoken words and haunting organ-like keyboards. The first part of the song is slower than the other songs with a hint of doom quality to it, then the tempo quickens and it’s in the remainder of this song when you clearly hear the traditional instruments again mixed with the haunting keys.
Just the very nature of the title of “V Ob'jat'jah Kramoly” (Embraced by Sedition) makes me anticipate something different with this song and I’m not disappointed as Scream uses another style of singing – something more akin to black metal/early Cradle of Filth.
Although I might prefer Arkona’s earlier heavily Russian-folk-rooted music, YAV’ is an album which will continue the warm reception the band receives in continental Europe.