By now, incorporating Middle-Eastern accents into metal is not the most original of ideas. Nile and Melechesh have both been doing it for several years now, and new bands keep popping up doing something similar. Now we have Arkan, a French band with Middle Eastern roots trying their hand at it within the context of melodic death metal.

The diversity here is what really jumps out at you. From straight forward melodic death to pure Middle-Eastern tones, to a melding of the two, death growls/grunts, clean singing, female vocals to haunting atmospheres and moods, the platter they serve has a little of everything, yet still manages to sound cohesive.

At twelve tracks, the albums biggest downfall for me is its play time. The majority of the tracks here hit just shy of six minutes and longer, making for an exhaustive listen as they very rarely flatten the accelerator. The focus here seems to be primarily on creating atmospheres and moods, which is partially achieved with traditional Eastern instruments, rather than mindless aggression – something I generally need an ample amount of to stay interested for any real length of time. Regardless of my ADD in this respect, what Arkan does screams class – it’s just a shame I find myself searching for something with more aggression about ¾’s of the way through.

Another element of the album that I find not so great are the strictly Middle-Eastern tracks, that somewhat serve as interludes. “Lamma Bada (Under the Spell of Haughtiness)”, “Athaoura (Shaped by the Hands of the Gods)”, and the album closing “Amaloun Jadid” are the tracks in question, with the first two using strictly non-English vocals, and the third being instrumental, but closing out with some metallic elements. “El Houdou” is another short instrumental track near the end of the album, but here they stick with the metal.

If I had to pick a highlight however, it would have to be “Native Order”, where they seem to balance their various elements more, and introduce a bit more heft than the rest of the album.

As I said before, Hilal is just brimming with class, a word I keep repeating when describing this band. Though I feel they could benefit from slightly lessening their focus on atmospheres and adjusting the tempo some more track to track. I’ll have to keep them on my radar in the future though, because they have the potential to really lock me in hook, line, and sinker.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
December 13th, 2008


  1. Commented by: stiffy

    A lot of potential. I really enjoyed this disc. Doesn’t grab me to the point where I can’t put it down but the next release could be a monster. Good review, Larry.

  2. Commented by: Dimaension X

    I found this album really boring. It is very well produced and sounds great, and I believe the band are genuinely talented, but I just didn’t find the album at all interesting. “Exhuastive listen” is an apt description.

    No insult intended, because I agree that they do have great potential, but this album is just lacking anything to keep my attention.

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