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Goddess of Folk Metal - 91%

Arithel of Lenias, January 8th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Independent

So this is Alkonost's 11th album. For a band that is just over 23 years old, that is quite the accomplishment. Alkonost have gone through quite a few lineup changes but Andrey Losev has stuck it out to continually pump out solid material. Akonost have come a long way from their debut album, "Songs of the Eternal Oak" almost abandoning the guttural echoes of the doom/black metal scene. That is not a bad thing though, for in its absence, Alkonost have created a new atmosphere that I was excited to explore.

When I think of Russia, I picture a white barren and cold land, filled with mythical creatures running amok. At least that is what Alkonost invokes in me. Октаграмма or Octagram for us English native speakers, starts off with an eerie intro, drawing us into a dark and foggy forest where we can only hear the echoes of a goddess calling to us. The keyboards kick in to snap us back into reality, reminding us that we are about to embark on an epic journey. One of the greatest strengths of Alkonost is the vocal abilities of Ksenia Pobuzhanskaya. Her wide range of octaves fits perfectly into the style that Alkonost aims to achieve. Her vocals with the guitar work of Andrey Losev is a duo gifted to us from the gods themselves.

After the intro, the first real song from the album kicks off. Тропа к весне or "The Trail of Spring" (a rough translation). This song embodies all that is Alkonost up to this point in time. The slow, rhythmic backdrop, the unique sound of Andrey Losev's guitar work, the atmosphere of the keyboards and Ksenia Pobuzhanskaya's soothing vocals. All culminate to create the sound of Spring. Now if only I could figure out what they are saying but alas, I can only imagine that is about the majestic season of Spring in Russia.

The album continues with my favorite song of the album, Вслед молодой заре or "Following the Dawn" (again, a rough translation). This song has the catchiest melody that I have heard in quite some time. It was stuck in my head for months after first listening to it. Ksenia Pobuzhanskaya's vocals shine on this song and show us why she is a force to be reckoned with in the folk metal community. Папоротник or "Fern" is a close second for me. The chorus is super catchy and the keyboards are relentless.

Октаграмма manages to engage the listener with a variety of catchy songs. Some slower paced, some faster to keep us headbanging but all serve a purpose. I believe the purpose of this album is to show us the beauty and chaos of nature. At least that is what I felt when listening to this album in its entirety. You can jump into this album and listen to any song and I guarantee the melody will be stuck in your head for weeks. That is what Alkonost manages to accomplish on every album. Октаграмма is just the latest installation in Alkonost's amazing repertoire of folk metal.

If you've never listened to Alkonost or have never listened to folk metal in general, I would definitely recommend Октаграмма. For all others, I would still recommend Октаграмма simply because it is a beautiful piece of art that needs to be appreciated by all. It is by no means flashy like other folk metal acts - Alkonost prefers to invoke a feeling of pagan rituals and stories with their slow buildups and progression. Alkonost invites you to listen and listen carefully. The journey of Октаграмма begins humbly but leaves you with a sense of satisfaction that you've learned more about the world and yourself as a human being luckily having a brief moment of life to enjoy all its beauty.

Thank you Alkonost.