An Arabian voice talks and suddenly all hell breaks loose: A massive riff slams like a sandstorm straight into the face. In its trembling string-work flows an oriental undercurrent tasting of sharp exotic spices. While tension steadily builds up a moment of tranquillity interrupts the fierce pelting like an oasis with a clear male voice and an acoustic interlude, which offers hospitality and light-hearted relief until the grinding wind returns with a vengeance. Yet unexpectedly appearing as the sudden eye of a storm this song is entering a new stage. Ancient string-instruments and whirling percussion speak of an Arabic ancestry and a seductive female voice tastes like honeycomb in a delicate tea made from fresh mint-leaf. A paradise like this cannot last and those brutal metal-riffs return like a wandering dune crushing everything that stand in its way without mercy. This is "Groans of the Abyss", which mark s the spectacular opening of ARKAN's debut "Hilal". Although the combination of death metal and oriental scales, sounds and melodies has been quite successfully tried before, this album takes the fusion of modern metal and traditional roots in Arabic or Northern African much further than ever before.
In the north of Africa, the greatest hot desert on this planet stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east. The mighty Sahara with its rocky cliffs, fields of boulders and gravel as well as the rarer stretches of sandy dunes rules supreme. Extremes of heat and cold, lack of water as well as fertile lands make the desert an inhospitable place, yet still it has been the home of many tribes and people for thousands of years. The proud Tuareg of Berberian descend clad in black and blue or nomadic Arabic Bedouins have roamed its hostile environment connecting east and west, south and north. Influences from the Orient including its music have also been brought into the Maghreb the "Place of Sunset" meaning a region comprising Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
Ancient ties are also binding the Maghreb to Europe, from the famous Phoenicians traders and their Punic colonies with Rome's rival Carthage at the centre, via the Moorish Caliphate in Spain and to French colonial history in the north of the African continent. Therefore, it comes at no big surprise that a group of young musicians gathered in Paris to musically re-establish this old cultural axis between the North and the South. In May 2005, Foued Moukid the former drummer and percussionist of French Dark Metal avant-garde The Old Dead Tree met with vocalist and guitarist Abder Abdellahoum, who used to play in Dawn of Decline. Both musicians were driven by a shared vision: To amalgamate melodic Death Metal with Oriental traditions, whose roots reach deep down into the ethnic sounds of Algeria and Morocco.
Foued and Abder decided to take a radical change in their musical careers and founded ARKAN. They recruited the guitarists Samir Ramila and Mus Elkamal from the Algerian Death Metal outfit Worth with the added benefit that Mus also plays traditional string instruments like the oûd. In the person of Florent Jannier, a former member of Whisper-X a classical growler was found as well and now ARKAN were ready to unleash their visionary spirit unto the world. As a first sign of the amazing things to come, the self-produced MCD "Burning Flesh" (2006) sees the light of the world. Musically combining violent Death with eastern moods, the title-track offers lyrically a staunch rejection of the madness of suicide bombings. In ARKAN, you will not find any sympathy for terror. In the following months, the band sharpened their skills and style by getting out on stage with many bands including Decapitated, Dagoba, No Return and Hacride.
Having found the right formula to create a new sound from day one, ARKAN were perfecting their style in an astonishingly short period. Within a year oriental instruments like oûd, mandola, derbouka, bendir, cajon or table as well as traditional oriental male and female vocal parts had been carefully integrated into a background of aggressive metal riffs with Arabic moods and atmospheres. ARKAN composed new songs that were full of colourful sounds and shades with subtle exotic atmospheres and dark moods. As this material needed a perfect production, which was keeping the right balance between electric and acoustic instruments the renowned Studio Fredman was chosen to record "Hilal" in spring 2008 with Fredrik Nordström (In Flames, Dimmu Borgir, Arch Enemy, Septicflesh) behind the mixing desk. Jacob Hansen (Hatesphere, Volbeat) performed the mastering at Hansen Studio, which also contributed to the powerful, clear sound of "Hilal".
With "Hilal" the Sons of the Sahara are taking crushing metal to a new Oriental dimension – be ready for ARKAN!
|Foued Moukid||drums & percussion|
|Mus Elkamal||guitars, acoustic guitars, oûd|
|Sarah Layssac||clean vocals|