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>>>   R e v i e w s   >>>   ARAKAIN "Excalibur" / "Gladiátor"

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>>> JOHAN | 2007-05-25 >>>

ARAKAIN "Excalibur" / "Gladiátor"

(1988 Panton)

The first official Arakain release

Arakain was the only metal band to possibly compete with Citron back in the second half of the 80's. While metalized Citron put out a single a in 1984 and a full album two years later, Arakain only started to show up in 1987, when the "Posloucháte Vetrník ...3" sampler introduced their song "Cesta". Although the review title suggest just the two songs from the single, I'll say a word about „Cesta“, too, to make up for the list of all the songs that came out on vinyl. The original title was "Nesmíš to vzdát", and soon after the sampler came out, Arakain criticised its sound quality. What you heard from the record was a flat sounding rock, and there was little left of the song as presented live. People spoke of intentional editing of the song and the original version of the song could only be heard in a re-recorded form from the compilation CD "Arakain 15 vol. 2" in 1997.

After the Supraphon (record label) treat, Arakain records more songs for a different company, namely Panton, that released some nonconform bands from time to time even before the totalitarian period finished. Two biggest hits as known from the concerts had been selected - "Excalibur" a "Gladiátor". Five guys hit the theatre studio in 1987 and came out with much better sounding material that was released the following year. Besides Aleš Brichta (v), Jirí Urban (g), Miroslav Mach (g) and Zdenek Kub (b) the band's drummer was Karel Jencík, for whom it was the last studio session with Arakain before he made his way to Assesor. "Excalibur" starts with an unusual flute part to evoke mediaeval atmosphere (guest Petr Bezpalec), followed up by tambourine and the electric instruments and drums replace the intro, not in a seamless way. Aleš almost screams words about Merlin, legendary sword Excalibur, Lancelot, Arthur and the knights of the round table. The song has just a short moment to take a breath, else it's a fast double bass driven track with thrashing guitars, pounding bass and typical squeaky lead in the second half. "Gladiátor", perhaps the band's best hit from the period 1987 - 1988, starts with long guitar tones, suddenly replaced with fast drums, sharp guitars and of course rough vocals. The songs is monotonous in the beginning, but gains another dimension due to chugging riffs and shouted vocals, a lead breaks in and then there is the one word repeating chorus. First four times, second already twelve times. I get back 20 years ago when I was listening to the single, a friend came in and though the record had got stuck and plays over again at the same place... Still, the music around the repeated word develops from classical thrash through more minimalist arrange to a colourful soloing. A word about the lyrics - historical topics have got a good treatment from Aleš here. You can imagine the legendary king Arthur, as well as the muscular gladiators fighting for their lives.

The single offers two songs that we can consider fundamental for the band's history. But the attack on the Czech metal throne came only with the first full length two years later.

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