Poland's Arkona, not to be confused with the Russian act of the same name, is one of many great under-recognized bands from black metal second wave. Forming in 1993, the band has spend the ensuing decades creating some of the finest black metal out of eastern Europe (or anywhere else). Arkona specializes in crafting fuzz-laden, atmospheric black metal that still maintains a level of aggression often lost on bands that sometimes rely too heavily on a flowing sound. Additionally, they provide the perfect balance of the straightforward black metal of Darkthrone and Gorgoroth with the classical and synth-inspired sounds of bands like Gehenna. It's a deeply satisfying sound that rewards multiple listens and creates an entire world for the listener to explore.
On November 4, 2016, Arkona will release it's latest album, Lunaris on Debembur Morti Productions. The new album contains six tracks of consistently excellent, dark and melodic black metal. Along with bands like Taake and Vemod, Arkona shows that there is still plenty of worlds for 2nd-wave black metal to explore, and many classic records to be made. But for those of you first getting to know the band, I highly advise checking out the band's landmark 1996 release, Imperium.
In Dayal Patterson's book, Black Metal: The Cult Never Dies (available now through the Decibel store), Dayal describes Imperium as:
"A genuine masterpiece, it is a record that epitomises everything great about the era and despite the Nordic influences its Polish character is undeniably present throughout. With the use of church organ, choir and string synth sounds and a nicely unpolished production, the record is rich in atmosphere and carries an air of almost religious fanaticism, an element only heightened by Messiah's superb and zealot-like vocals."
Expect all of this and more (a slightly cleaner production, but still raw enough to deliver the right atmosphere) from Arkona's upcoming album on November 4.