Released: 2016, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Re-recording a classic album is always tricky business. Whereas most fans probably cling to and defend their dear and nostalgic original release, there are some albums that certainly benefit from a little polishing and revival. Russian folk metal veterans Arkona’s recent re-recording of their first album Vozrozhdenie is of the latter kind. Fittingly enough, as the Russian album title literally means ‘revival’.
The original Vozrozhdenie marked the beginning of the promising Arkona’s career when it was released through Sound Age Production in 2004, and with an already defined and distinct sound, they soon entered the spotlight as one of the frontrunners for the pagan metal movement. The album skillfully captured the atmospheric essence of Slavic music and presented it to a new audience.
This re-recording presents several improvements over the original. The guitar tone is overall a lot cleaner, and it sounds less raw than before. One could point out that arguably the raw and rough sound of the 2004 version is part of the appeal of early Arkona material, but it’s refreshing nonetheless to hear the music with improved production and finer instrumental skills. The mixing is also a lot more balanced on this version, and it appears as a more polished product.
Several artistic liberties have been taken with this re-recording, and it helps very much in presenting the album as not just a bland copy of the original, but an improvement musically (besides just the production). A vocal harmony is now accompanying the guitars and keyboard in the intro of “Rus”, masterfully executed by vocalist Masha “Scream” Arhipova. Undeniably the soul of the band, her distinct voice works just as well in providing enchanting vocal melodies as it did 12 years ago.
The classic intro to “Kolyada” sounds a lot better and more powerful than the original, and “Zalozhny” is no longer dominated by keyboards, making the guitars more prominent and enjoyable to listen to. The ‘battle cries’ throughout “SoIntsevorot” are more compelling and less muffled than previously, and it’s also one of the tracks benefitting the most from cleaner guitars. Interestingly enough, the title track and “Chernye-Vorony” have switched spots in the running order of the re-recording, without seemingly doing much for either the better or worse in terms of pacing.
The rather unnecessary ambient sounds of nature and rainfall has been omitted from the tracks “Pod-Mechani” and “Zov-Predkov”, and several other songs have been cut by a few seconds, making this release just less of a minute shorter than the original.
Alltogether, the re-recorded Vozrozhdenie does justice to the original in successfully maintaining its nostalgic charm while sounding polished and better arranged. A classic folk metal album has been given new life with this re-recording, and it will undoubtedly please fans of the band and the genre.
Review by Torbjørn 'Toby' Jørstad