Desert Battles 2018
Review by Alex on August 26, 2018.
Arallu plays a very ethnic sounding form of black/death metal on this 2009 album re-release titled Desert Battles 2018. This is done by incorporating sitars, bongos, shake tambourines and conch shells (or what sounds to be conch shells). All this is used to conjure an ancient middle eastern sensation which in return helps the band in terms of their identity and also does a great service in avoiding musical monotony. The pace of the compositions featured on the record ranges from mid-tempoed to hyper-quick blasting. Accompanying the music is a strong sense of melody and lengthy thrash metal segments. The mixture of all this and more can be heard on Desert Battles. Though very skeptical at first of how it would be presented and would these elements hinder Arallu’s music, I was pleased to find that quite the contrary took place during the time attributed towards the listening of Desert Battles (though not without fault). This is the first black/death metal band I have encountered thus far that has shown a very large amount of diversity instrumentally. The unorthodox formula used in the creation of Desert Battles greatly helped in keeping the music interesting given it is 47 minutes long and for this genre, that’s quite a lengthy feat.
With “Old Form of Evil” being the first song following the intro, I was a bit worried as to how the addition of such foreign musical instruments would affect it and the rest of the album. However, after about 1 minute into the track, It all began to glue together nicely. The slow mid paced sitar and bongo driven song suddenly transformed into a furious blast of guitar shredding and drumming. It is with this entry I fully understood what to expect from the following tracks. However progressing deeper into the album I found myself questioning the overall effectiveness of the music being played and the level of enjoyment I was experiencing on Desert Battles. I say this because for the first half there were just a very few moments that stood out even with the supplement of cultural instrumentation. The songs following “Old Form of Evil” did not successfully challenge the album opener. The following songs on the first half of the record, though barely decent, did not do enough to meet my expectations of what would be the final result after hearing “Old Form of Evil”. Even with “The Demon Curse” being one of the better tracks on the first half of the album, I still did not feel satisfied with what I had heard thus far as a collective.
However, beginning with track 6, “The Union of Babylon”, I was immediately drawn in by the thrash metal riffing and drumming; even the vocals began to spring forth a display of diversity as they got deeper and louder on various segments. The aid of ethnic musical installments was used more effectively than on the 1st half of Desert Battles. It appeared to be a reintroduction to the record with a correction of musical structure in every department. Riffs seemed to be more aligned with the drumming and vice versa, the vocals stood out, and the sitar, tambourine and bongos were used more persuasively during this period. This momentum is sustained and could not have surfaced at a more critical time of the record following the 1st half of the album. On the the 2nd half of Desert Battles Arallu manages to execute much better song flow as each item during this portion feels to have a high level of attachment to the prior and following tracks. That middle eastern cultural atmosphere Arallu installed early on the record is also amplified successfully during this time span. The songs on the second half seem to have been constructed around the ethnic instruments rather than the opposite, thus making the album seem more comprehensive and united. The second half of Desert Battles struly saved the album and even provided the encouragement to give it repeated listens.
Desert Battles though not perfect still gives the listener many enjoyable fragments of the Arallu’s talent. In spite of the production being cloudy to a degree, the audio is clean enough to grasp the shining moments presented during the 47 minutes of playing time.
- The Union of Babylon
- The Keeper of Jerusalem
- Desert Genii Storm
Rating: 7.4 out of 10