Lomé, Togo: incredibly, it’s the first time we’re writing about Arka’n even in spite of following the band for years! incidentally, rock music enjoys a rich heritage in West Africa, though little of it remains in the present times. However, Arka’n plays a major role not only in keeping the legacy of this region alive, but reaching out to ears in far away places.
This Saturday, Arka’n celebrates the long awaited release of Zã Keli with a live show at Mix Bar, and entrance free of charge!
“The release party actually started last Saturday when we officially released the album during a very cool press conference. Ever since, the tracks have been playing worldwide and the reception is really overwhelming! We are super happy.” ~ Rock Ahavi (guitar/vocals, Arka’n)
In our opinion, in many ways, this is the most essential African Metal release to date; perhaps followed closely by Zimbabwe’s Dividing The Element which released a self-titled debut last year. When we say this, we’re not speaking of production or popularity, or even touring experience. We’re speaking purely about capturing the essence of “African-ism” within the Metal genre of music. You simply will not find music quite like this anywhere else.
Zã Keli: long awaited debut album
For anybody interested in hearing what a self-produced album in Togo, West Africa sounds like, then this is your chance. It’s remarkably vibrant! Most notably, it brings a seamless and refreshing blend between African and Western musical and cultural ideals. The work of Zã Keli also exemplifies African determination and ingenuity within its own cultural spheres:
“We record our songs ourselves in our own studio, and I’m the one who deals with the recording, the mixing-mastering and sometimes, video editing. We are self financed, and also financed by some fans and supporters.” ~ Rock Ahavi (guitar/vocals, Arka’n)
Even the final detail – the Zã Keli album art – is the product from within the ranks of Arka’n itself:
“I was listening to our album. ‘Warrior Song’, ‘Return of the Ancient Sword’, ‘Tears of the Dead’… and I had a vision. I took my pencil and I let the vision guide me… and the artwork was born!” ~ Rock Ahavi
Arka’n: an expression of The Whole
It’s a complex conversation to have; to understand a sound without undermining its integrity. Rock, on the other hand, exhibits his artistic integrity in helping to dispel any assumptions we might have about why Arka’n sounds the way it does:
“I think of Arka’n musical inspiration as a whole! We don’t dissociate rock/metal from ethnic. For us the combination of both is so obvious and so natural; so ‘one’. It’s not even a combination. It’s a whole thing” ~ Rock Ahavi
He tells us of the band’s development not as a process of trying to integrate ethnic components into a typically Western style of music, but rather as musicians developing in terms of technicality and deeper compositions. A natural path of development followed by all bands everywhere. The unique sound of Arka’n is neither accidental nor intentional; rather, it is just art unrestrained:
“So far, I think most of African bands are just playing metal as it is! Which is normal, to me. When I listen to them, I recognize stereotypes of western metal. And many of them are really, really good and awesome. In Arka’n we don’t explore or experiment fusions of genre. Our inspiration; the commitment of the band; the spirit of the lyrics, and what we believe in; it automatically and naturally leads us to that ethnic-metal style. I think all is a matter of inspiration, first. Our song ‘Lost Zion’ is a typical western metal song. We don’t need it to be African ethnic. I don’t think African rock/metal bands should force themselves to be ethnic. They just have to feel the vibe and let themselves go. If they feel tribal inspiration deep inside themselves, great! If they feel typical metal genres deep inside themselves,great!” ~ Rock Ahavi
Listen to and purchase the full Zã Keli via bandcamp