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Arallu - Desert Battles - Descending to the Sands (Re-Issue)

Desert Battles - Descending to the Sands (Re-Issue)
by Gareth Beams at 16 August 2018, 7:46 AM

ARALLU from Israel are imbibing their Middle-Eastern influences and channeling the same using the black metal template that they've been trying to perfect for over two decades. Not unlike their label mates in RUDRA, they're forging a unique sound replete with traditional instruments like Saz and Darbuka, and exhibiting a penchant for the thrashy variant of the style. Faster, tighter and more potent than ever before, “Six” bears the insignia of the band's progress over the years and their culmination in a release that might change their fortunes, finally. Long one of Israel’s most consistent Death Metal acts, ARALLU‘s fourth full-length spins a blistering yarn of Mesopotamian destroyers into the endless chaos of terror and oppression roiling present day Sumeria. Stylistically built twofold upon the concepts and stylistic approach of the previous album, “The Demon From the Ancient World”, but traded some of its Blackened Thrash Metal intensity for influences from more traditional Israeli Folk instrumentation and melodies. The album represents a strong period of growth for the project and by remastering it’s sound and re-recording the vocals, they’ve given reason enough to revisit ARALLU‘s past. Many positive changes have been made in this remaster with the most obvious one being the new mix/master by Dory Bar (ETERNAL GRAY) who was responsible for the sound of ‘Six’ and ‘Geniewar’ before this. The vocals have been re-recorded with MotiButchered’ Daniel‘s performance more forceful like on “Six” and this makes the tone of “Desert Battles” darker and more serious than before. The somewhat flat, blackened deadpan thrash sound of the original “Desert Battles” is replaced by a thicker, deathly mix that works quite well. What makes “Desert Battles” stand out is ARALLU‘s incorporation of Israeli/Arabic folk music fundamentals with a Blackened Death Thrash style commonly associated with similar bands like Melechesh, Absu, and Rudra. This experimentation is probably best incorporated as they progressed towards “Six” but “Desert Battles” does a great job of making that traditional instrumentation prominent without losing the attack of Blackened Thrash influenced Death Metal. It was nice to revisit this record after several years and hear all of the respectful improvements made to the original. Though I love the original sound of ARALLU‘s discography in general, increased clarity does a great justice to the ambitious style of “Desert Battles” without losing any of its impact.

Old Form Of Evil” has a weird intro that sounds like someone just said ‘Fuck it’ and ‘anything goes’. It is not set throughout. The drums kick in shortly to take over. The vocals are coarse and deep, ruling the overall tempo of the song, allowing speed in and around the bridge. The guitar melody is steadily building up to a sound beat. The song changes stance from the homeland-esq percussion intro. The mix is their own, very much a strength that they play to. The melody is heavy throughout, with vocals matching it. There is a Blackened Thrash/Death Metal vibe to several parts of the song, with allows a very good beat to kick it. The bass holds its own throughout by Butchered.

Possessor of the Code” starts with a harmonic percussion intro, feeling that it could go anywhere. It actually takes a punk-style speed, more dark vocals take the speed and intensity up a notch. The Horror Punk style is still full flow, mixing MISFITS and WEDNESDAY 13’s work. The song is nowhere near as heavy as before, the raw drum beat is the instrument heard loudest and proudest. There are a few decent deathgrowls and mini-power surges on the guitars. The song ticks over nicely, but may leave you wondering where the depth has gone.

Desert Battles” is totally different from the start, with a demonic shriek in the background, the guitars face off against each other, with more of a DARKTHRONE vibe, the percussions come into to add a new depth. The Death Metal feel has returned in full. The pace and intensity are higher once more. Vocals are stronger, taking the song by the scruff of the neck and leading it into its own direction. The balance is a lot slicker here, showing a new skill which, we hadn’t seen before.

The Union of Babylon” has a start that would be more accustomed to the likes of EXODUS and OVERKILL with the shriek. The vocals then return to normal paced. The thrashed-up melody in the background contains a few percussions, once again nit fully allowing a Death Metal vibe to overflow, but contain in its own momentum. The balance here is once more sustained, even with the random outbursts of Israeli folk shots. It’s a strange mx, but because its subtly down it works. The pace is taken down to match the folk tempo.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Al Macbara (Instrumental) (Intro)
2. Old Form Of Evil
3. Possessor of the Code
4. Desert Battles
5. The Demon Curse
6. The Union of Babylon
7. The Keeper of Jerusalem
8. Millchama
9. The Doom Beating (Instrumental)
10. Genie King
11. Surviving
12. Evil Finest
13. Desert Genii Storm
Moti Daniel (aka Butchered) - Vocals, Bass
Gal Cohen (aka Pixel) - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Assaf Kassimov - Drums, Percussion
Omri Yagen - Guitars
Eylon Bart - Strings, Percussion
Record Label: Raven Metal


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