JOHAN | 2007-10-14 >>>
LP (1992 Monitor Records)
The third and last vinyl LP by Arakain
Arakain released their albums
in a year's intervals back in the early 90's and it is hardly
expectable that any band should offer such a strong material every
year. After warmly welcome "Thrash The Trash" as well as the sophomore
"Schizofrenie" there is "Black Jack", where we can hear a slightly
different Arakain. No big changes in the line-up, just a new drummer
since „Schizofrenia“, when Štěpán Smetáček was replaced by Marek
Žežulka, but the overall appearance of the material and the sound
aided by some keyboard and effect elements.
The black disk contains nine tracks with relatively long playing time.
Only the title track "Black Jack" comes within 4 minutes, while "Zapomeň"
approaches 6 minutes. Opening "Black Jack" is a catchy an rocking song
with dramatic keyboard by guest keyboardist Petr Ackermann, in the
album context it is still a sort of second line track. "Harlekýn" is a
different one and has always been my favourite. Aleš offers an
interesting work with vocals, when the first two verses are sung in a
placid way, to grow harder with the chorus. That goes for music as
well, drums pound (go check the drum sound on vinyl as compared to the
CD!!!) and the guitars are up to highest standrads. The best A-side
song for me. And the high standard is maintained with "Labyrint", a number of nice breaks, bass guitar stands out, and some sampled sounds
occur. A ballad is necessary, of course. "Zapomeň" is nothing like
"Šeherezád", but Arakain always did a good job with slow songs. The
arrangement of individual instruments is well balanced, so you hear
them one after another in short intervals during the slower passages.
The second side is open by "High Attack", which makes me feel just as
on the first one, although the unusual solo is worth attention. "Ty se
nezdáš" just can't get the right groove, but with the coming of the
chorus you get the right drive including fast drums and guitar soloing.
Top of side 2 and perhaps the entire record is "Kolonie termitů". Midtempo going slightly faster to climax in the chorus to again polish
it off and to prepare the listener for one more does of emotions in
another chorus. "Ukolébavka" is an example of experimenting with the
sound, starting quiet and adding to the strength. Aleš tries a
different voice again, perhaps one of a disappointed guy whose old
lady kicked said goodbye. Guitarsolo is a guest courtesy of Petr Janda
of Olympic and you can easily tell the difference from the metal
axemen. The depressive track deserves a happy compensation for the
close, and "Don Quijote" is just the thing. One more hitlike song with
strong melodies and outstanding chorus makes you yell along both at
shows or when listening to it at home alone. Two verses are sung by
the entire band and the strongest passages are solo for Aleš. A nice
The lyrics fall within two groups - those about relationships and the
other ones. The best of the former is definitely "Ukolébavka", good
job is "Zapomeň", but "Ty se nezdáš" has never been my cup of tea with
some not-very-deep wording. Out of the rest let me pick "Harlekýn" and
"Kolonie termitů". "Harlekýn" has a sad content describing the
feelings of an actor who's lot is to always play a clown. "Kolonie
termitů" ("The Termit Colony") - that's us, isn't it? Ok, let's hope
that those who visit this underground website do not exactly fall
within the characteristics of the greedy crowd. It's still worth
giving it a thought. But "Don Quijote" and "Labyrint" also provide
nice read, only perhaps "High Attack" and "Black Jack" are nothing to
write home about.
The author of the cover is Jiří Urban this time. Maybe an original
idea, but not exactly a cover for a metal band. Rear shows the band at
the same table with dealt out cards with info on the tracklist, line-up
and a strange kind of a bat. Inlay contains lyrics and lots of photos
from the studio and concerts.
Sentence? "Thrash The Thrash" is just one and Arakain (in my opinion)
have never topped it. "Schizofrenie" was a strong album as well, so
maybe "Black Jack" occupies the third place, perhaps together with
"Salto Mortale", which was not released on vinyl, unfortunately.