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Sivosten webZine :: Arkan - Hilal (2008)
Arkan - Hilal (2008)

Author: Ivan G. Atanasov, Tuesday, 17 February 2009.

In Articles :: Music; Propose a Second Opinion


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In Short
Reviewer's rating:

Readers' rating:
10 5 votes

Genre: Death Metal; Folk Metal; Metal; Progressive Metal;
Year: 2008;
Line-up: Arkan;
Origin: France;
See also: New albums
Arkan - Hilal
Season Of Mist, 2008

Line-up:
Samir Remila - bass
Florent Jannier - vocals
Mus El Kamal - guitar
Abder Abdallahoum - guitar, keyboard

Tracklist:
1. Groans of the Abyss; 2. Lords Decline; 3. Mistress of the Damned Souls; 4. Lamma Bada; 5. Tied Fates; 6. The Seven Gates; 7. Athaoura; 8. Chaos Cypher; 9. Defying the Idols; 10. El Houdou; 11. Native Order; 12. Amaloun Jadid

Melodic Death Metal interlaced with Arabian motives. I know, it does sound a bit strange. What's even more curious turns out it sounds well. Really well. And the actual proof of that is Arkan a French band of Arabian origin. Their first album Hilal entwines traditional folklore elements from the Orient and the harsh, rough sound of Death in a gorgeous collaboration, that sounds fresh and original something so rare in the world of music nowadays. Listening to it, one can truly feel the spirit of the desert, the flow of sands, the ancient culture of another world.

Arkan does sound a bit softer than most Death Metal bands, probably because of the progressive elements sneaking through their unique style. Despite (or more likely because of) the unusual mix of genres, the end product is worth every single second of listening to it.

The album itself is incredible. The first time I heard it, I couldn't believe it was a debut one. Every moment of "Hilal" is created professionally, with a lot of passion and attention to detail from the drums and guitars to the struggling clear and roaring vocals. Basically, most debuts suffer from at least a little bit of naivety, even when it comes to the album structure.
Hilal doesnt have this problem the songs are carefully put in order one after another, gently flowing into each other, following an inner logic, creating a composition which will leave you breathless in the end.

The first track gives us a general idea of what to expect from the album. Groans of the Abyss begins with something like a rerecord of an old Arabian song and quickly turns into a mindblowing Death metal. Scary. But even scarier is the moment when you hear the melancholic clean vocals combined with the sound of melodic guitars and acoustic traditional instruments. Pretty much the same thing happens with the second song Lord's Decline, with the exception of the quiet vocals at the start of the track. Naturally, while we are being shaken by the heavy roar and short guitar solos, hidden behind the groaning, the interlude turns into an outro some two minutes that will sweep you away to the Arabian world.

The next song - "Mistress of the Damned Souls seems a bit more traditional in terms of Death Metal. If you can call traditional a track, that consists of a melodic atmospheric part, progressive elements and mysterious vocals. However, unlike the rest of the songs on the album, this one is not as filled with acoustic moments as it is with rhythm ones. Yet the spirit remains the same, despite it being executed differently another proof that Arkan won't easily bore you.

Lama Bada a completely acoustic and traditional track, is one of the pleasant surprises on the album, that prepares us for the next song Tied Fates. The transition between those two is incredible, the gentle acoustic part of the first track slowly evolves into an electric sound, while the rhythm guitar keeps the initial Arabic theme, but at the same time it also transforms it into something different. The atmospheric intro is quickly replaced by almost classic Black Metal part, followed again by the initial Melodic Death sound with an extreme vocal line. That by the way is a general part of all the album.

The Seven Gates returns to the sound in the beginning of the album, and after it comes the second completely folklore track Athaoura. The latter comes like a calm break before perhaps the most brutal track in the album Chaos Cypher. Now this is a track that would honor even the greatest Death Metal bands. We can say almost the same about Defying the Idols, where we can also hear an interesting combination between female and extreme vocals - I warmly recommend it to everyone.

The instrumental El Houdou serves as some sort of introduction to the probably most atmospheric track in the album the seven minute long Native Order. I can barely say a bad word about it it's one dynamic, unusual song, yet also keeping the unique spirit of the band. They could have spared us only the outro, which doesnt seem to fit with the rest of the composition. The last piece on the album Amaloun Jadid is another instrumental, that once again manages to bind traditional elements with metal just like the rest.

I strongly believe that Hilal will be of interest not only to the fans of the non-traditional, but also to the ones who like heavy music as a whole. It's unique and varied and is something really worth listening to. It probably won't become everyone's favourite , but is still worth the try, even only for the chance of touching another culture, and enriching your musical library. Arkan have done something that a few musicians have managed before, at least in this genre. I would like to say again, that the level of professionalism for a debut album is shocking and uncommon.

Have a nice listening.

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Commentary topic: http://www.sivosten.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=212665#212665






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