Album Review: “Dzikkuh” by Arka’n Asrafokor

Weibliche Kriegerin mit Kind auf dem Arm hebt ihre Rechte Faust, aus der ein Blitz schießt, im Hintergrund ein Tornado, der die Wüste aufwirbelt.

Togo quintet Arka’n Asrafokor unleash its unique brand of metal on its sophomore release, Dzikkuh. This record is a blend of complex, tribal drumbeats, crushing riffs and infectious choruses. “The Truth” opens with this manic African percussion interspersed with kick drums and vocast Rock Ahavi’s melodically guttural vocals. The groove never falters despite the multiple rhythm changes, making for a great listen. “Not Getting In Line” sounds like Soulfly fused with Slipknot due to its manic opening before transitioning to a nu-metal groove with screeching samples. The band released “Walk With Us” as a single for good reason: it is a heavy, accessible track. The percussion hits like a barrage of arrows with a catchy, melodic chorus that an audience will chant at a live show. The riffs are a bit unorthodox with a slight Fear Factory influence.

“Mamade” opens with a clean guitar and tribal drums before the crunching guitars hit like a concrete slab. The track walks a line between technical and loose as the open guitar lines contrast with the intricate drum patterns. “Final Tournament” dips into death metal territory but maintains a desert blues vibe for its duration. “The Calling” is a dynamic semi-ballad that concludes the album on a flat note. It is not a bad track, but is too conventional a song to close out a record like Dzikkuh.

Dzikkuh is a multi-textured record that draws from several musical sources. The African musical infleunce is readily apparent in the percussion, which is both technical and grooving. Metal bands like Sepultura and Soufly (i.e. Max Cavalera) have introduced indigenous music on records. However, the drumming on Dzikkuh is on another level. The guitar riffs are both unorthodox and conventional, drawing more from nu-metal than thrash or death metal. This is sensible as nu-metal bands emphasize groove over technicality, making the guitar riffs a bit dull at times. Arka’n avoid this trap for the most part, as the rhythm changes keep the listener on their feet.

Metal fans will not hear an album like Dzikkuh. The African metal scene is still obscure at this time, but Arka’n Asrafokor could change that with this album. This album is diverse enough to appeal to fans of prog metal, death metal and nu-metal. Asrafokor means “music of the warriors” and the band reign victorious on Dzikkuh.

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