Arkona – Age of Capricorn

Band: Arkona
Title: Age of Capricorn
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Release date: 13 December 2019
Country: Poland
Format reviewed: Digital Promo

It’s a busy time for everyone around the holidays. The cooking and the baking and the cleaning, but of course like doing anything else the best way to make it better is to have some good music in the background, right?

The Polish ARKONA has been around since 1993 and released no less than seven full length albums along with compilations, splits and demos. The seventh album was released just three days ago titled “Age of Capricorn”. I have heard from various directions that the band had come to certain stagnation and so decided to take it upon myself to make an opinion on the matter, while baking ginger bread cookies of course.

The eerie intro with demonic voices and spicy strings opened up the holiday spirit just as much as the smell of cloves. The added fast and melodic black metal filled the kitchen with the somewhat familiar shrieking vocals as ARKONA has always had, even though I believe this vocalist has not been a member from the beginning. The whole 8 minutes of “Stellar Inferno” appears to be based around the same riff which makes it a bit too long in the end although some delightful church organs join the scene at the very end.

The same chugging guitar chords and intense drum play continue the second track “Alone Among Wolves”, but is made up for in the title track “Age of Capricorn”. It continues a more melodic riff and laid back drumming which keeps the diversity going until the verse kicks in with well-fitting desperate vocals. It somewhat slides pass the no-go 8 minutes length for me personally because of that, but nevertheless it is on the edge.

Blazing speed defines the shortest track of the album “Deathskull Mystherium”, and it makes sense. The vocals move to a more traditional black metal style as well as the aggressiveness fits the intensity of the music. It surely is some quality work from Poland and the formula is executed quite well by this group, but a familiar feeling still crawls up as the first four minutes of “Towards the Dark” is over with its orchestration intro and traditional blasting metal, and moves into the second four minutes which are pretty much just the same thing over and over again.

Some save the best for last, but ARKONA saves the lengthiest for last. I somewhat expected “Grand Manifest of Death” to hold every segment that I had already heard as some sort of a mix and I don’t think I was wrong. We got an eerie angelic synth, demonic voices, speedy black with melodies, a change of shape halfway through, flowing riffs, slower drumming… you get the picture.

When an 8 minute long song goes on for 5 minutes with the same riff it is easy to think that the track could have gotten away with about half its playtime, and after this six track album I think that is my first general feeling of the whole thing. However the album is well performed, well written and well produced, there is nothing to complain about that and I personally do not believe that this group has come to a stagnant state. If anything I think they have found the exact sound and style they feel fits them, and have worked hard on their skills to produce good material. 7.5/10 Julia

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7.5/10 Victory is possible
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