Arnica is a neo folk band from Iberia (Spain) that follows the same musical direction as bands like Svarrogh & Sturmpercht. Their music is strongly inspired by nature, old rituals, Iberian culture and European traditional folk. Lecho De Piedra (translated as Bed Of Stone) was released earlier this year as a digipac CD and it's pretty interesting to say the least. Personally, I don't really understand Spanish so I have no idea what the lyrics are about but that doesn't have an effect on the listening pleasure.
The most striking element on Lecho De Piedra is the fact that Arnica seems to succeed in incorportating other genres within their typical Ur-Folk style. On 'Uro' there's suddenly a slight black metal feel, probably because of the extended use of drums and percussion, almost making it sound like blast beats. 'Valle De Lobos' on the other hand, reminds us of Calva Y Nada but again in a folk style with nothing but traditional, analog instruments. Dolmen Sangrado is a vocal mantra on an experimental piece of music while 'Una Bestia Astada' has a Deutsch Nepal touch to it. These little dodges give the neo-folk of Arnica a lot of variation.
The main part of this CD constists of traditional sounding folk, perfectly suited for a label like Steinklang or Tesco. Mostly driven on imposing percussion and guitars the twelve songs on the CD create a dark, primitive atmosphere and the use of bagpipes, flutes, horns and accordion add a lot to this feeling. The overal feel is pretty dramatic, taking the listener on a journey through the Iberian mountains, exposing ages of culture and warfare. Frankly, you can't go more European than this.
In all, Lecho De Piedra is an excellent neo-folk CD, fitting perfectly between your collection of Allerseelen, Sol Invictus and the previously mentioned Sturmpercht albums. Even I, someone who doesn't really listen to neo-folk that much (because, let's face it, most neo-folk sounds very alike), am pretty impressed by this Iberian output, probably because of the little sideways that Arnica afford themselves. If you're new to the genre, this is a very decent introduction and if you're an old folkie, you will absolutely love this.