After five long years, pagan folk metal band ARKONA finally return with their ominous ninth studio album, Kob’, to be released on June 16, 2023 via Napalm Records. Once again, the musicians dive into the deep, dark realms of vocalist Masha Scream’s philosophy and views on the future of mankind’s modern existence while they paint their music in the light of pagan traditions. With eight albums under their belts and multi-millions of cross-platform streams, the eight new tracks on Kob’ reveal another side of the band, forming the next chapter in their discography. Preparing listeners for the first step into the abyss, the album opener “Izrechenie. Nachalo” (ENG: The Speech. The Beginning) gently takes the listeners’ hand, leading them into trancelike realms of ominous whispers and murmuring voices - a recurring motif on the album. While humanity pulls out the long-forgotten past, “Kob’” (ENG: Sorcery) revives these ancient days with darkly painted tunes and the remarkable shouts of Masha. Amazing clean vocals open the way for beautiful melodic synths and gloomy guitar lines while humanity buries the current events in the grave of its “savoir”. Dominated by rhythmic synths and a catchy baseline, “Ugasaya” (ENG: Fadin’ Away) represents the modern era of ARKONA’s pagan roots, as well as the great diversity in their music. The mysteriously melodic track gathers the strength of mother earth and carries the mind to a different sphere, stressed by dashing tornado blast beats. Melting to a homogenous mix with relentless shredding guitars, rising harmonies once more induce goosebumps, especially when they alternate with the layered clean vocals of Masha, creating epic bipolarity. Although Kob’ is dedicated to pagan metal, “Mor”, one of the album’s longest tracks, leans towards black metal - forming the most epic hymn on the album. Challenging playful acoustic guitar fingerpicking with characteristic death metal riffs, the wind instruments and synth effects represent the next step into hell. Since the beginning of humankind, it’s been haunted by plagues, although mankind itself is the main plague of our time. Not only articulating through lyrics, Masha also sets the tone with her keyboard solo on the emotional “Razryvaya plot' ot bezyskhodnosti bytiya” (ENG: Tearing the flesh owing to the despair of being). While society digs its own grave through wars, religious beliefs and environmental problems, pensive wind instruments and acoustic guitar interludes transform the aggression of deep low growls and fast-paced guitar shredding. Closing the album with the world’s absolute apocalypse on “Izrechenie. Iskhod”(ENG: The Speech. The Conclusion), Kob’ is deeply rooted in pagan metal stylings of the old days, but offers a modern spirit via its production and variety alike. With their new ninth album, ARKONA reflects each step of humanity’s descent into hell, while catching new ears and exciting longtime fans alike.