Arkona and Diamond Plate at Joe’s Grotto, Phoenix, AZ
By Dave Schwartz

ArkonaArkona made a stop at Joe’s Grotto in Phoenix, AZ.  This was the 16th date of the North American leg of their Pagan World Tour.  Since Arkona is somewhat unknown to western audiences, I will share that they are a Russian pagan metal band.  Their vocalist, Masha, primarily sings in her native tongue.  Their lyrics are heavily influenced by Russian folklore and Slavic mythology, and their music incorporates several traditional Russian musical instruments.

The members of Arkona took the stage one at a time, building tension to the moment when Masha (vocalist) appeared.  She was adorned in traditional garb and furs and playing a Frame Drum.  Arkona opened the show with “Arkaim” as Masha roamed the stage wildly beating a rhythm.  Vladimir (wind ethnic instruments) played a form of bagpipe and, at times, shared center stage with Masha during the opening song.  Vladimir opened the second song, “Ot Serdtsa k Nebu” with a wicked flute solo. 

Arkona played a great set.   The heart of the band - Sergei (guitar), Ruslan (bass) and Vlad (drums) formed a solid background allowing Vladimir and Masha to shine.  The set included “Yarilo”, “Goi, Rode, Goi!”, “Po Syroi Zemle” and “Stenka na Stenku”. 

Arkona is a very cool band that just does not make it to the west very often.  Catch them while they’re here because it will likely be several years before they return. 

 Diamond Plate

Diamond Plate was a late but very welcome addition to the nights line up.  Having just finished their tour with Death Angel, and out in support of their August 2013 release, “Pulse”, Diamond Plate was working their way back home to Chicago for some well-deserved rest. 

If you haven’t seen this young band, catch them.  Their set is high energy and tight.  Bassist, Matt Ares’s vocals were dead nuts on and together with Knorad Kupiec (guitar) and James Nicademus (drums) they ripped through a set that was way too short for my tastes.  I’m looking forward to catching these guys in 2014 – you should too.

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