Moscow pagan folk-metal band Arkona
are not only one of the best in their admittedly rather small genre, they’re also one of the best female-led metal bands in the world, period stop. Front woman Masha Scream (aka Maria Arkhipova) founded the band with a fellow member of a Russian neopagan society in the early aughts, then dissolved and rebuilt it a few years later. The current lineup is stable (which is fortunate, since it includes Arkhipova’s husband on guitar), and their output has improved steadily. The band’s sound, dark and romantic and filled out with traditional Slavic instruments to enhance its shamanic aura, works just fine in the studio—but Arkona seem to have a special fondness for the way it translates to the stage
: this spring’s Decade of Glory
(Napalm) is their third live album. But it’s a special one: for their tenth-anniversary show in February 2012, they enhanced their lineup with backup singers, a choir, and strings, all lovingly wrapped around Arkhipova’s feral growl. They don’t tour North America often, so if I were you I wouldn’t miss this chance to savor the full experience. —Monica Kendrick Warseid, Vukari, and Warforged open.