The seven gates
Hello Abder, what are you doing now and what's up in your band?
Hi Mortuary, we are currently preparing our selves for our next gig in the Metal Impact fest near the city of Lyon. “Hilal” was released 2 months ago, we took a short break just after its release and now we are back to do some gigs and book a tour in order to promote it.

Your new CD "Hilal" is still recent enough, how are you looking at it just now and how much came it up to your expectations? What are the critic's reactions?
We are very satisfied. “Hilal" is greeted in several countries. We do not yet have the hindsight; its release remains fairly recent. But the views of listeners and journalists were unanimous and we’re very proud. We look forward to presenting the album on stage. It is very encouraging, and our music seems to appeal. This confirms that metal community is very open and tolerant. So far we feel that most of people understand our musical message and the things we wanted to get through this album. It’s an achievement for us after so much work.

Me, personally, have to give you congratulation on this album, it is really honest dose of original music with splendid emotions and atmosphere. "Hilal" is definitely comparable to SEPTICFLESH's "Communion" or NILE's "Ithyphallic" to me....who have written most of the stuff? 
Thanks a lot for the compliment! It’s definitely a team work. We have tried to link each process so that the particular theme of the lyrics can stick to the spirit of the music. We absolutely stick to what each member brings with his personal touch to the band’s music. The musical result is the perfect reflection of our personal musical history, whether in metal or in the Arabic music by the way. For words the theme required some researches, especially on the Sumerian mythology. This became the singer’s work that has been able to explain the themes that bind the words of "Hilal" after several weeks. This composition process has a lot of defects because the work is much longer and it requires a lot of compromises. The end result brings so much richness and originality that it is a necessary evil.

I think, your music would be high-class also without your Oriental influences if you'd play pure Death Metal. But the Oriental influences give you something extra, something what many Death Metal bands missing! It's great if playing technique joins with brutality and originality moreover with strong composition abilities and traditional Arabic culture influences. Do you think you will prove to overcome "Hilal" album?
Every composition of Arkan is a reflexion of our state of mind at a moment, and every time we compose a piece we give our best at that moment, that was the case with our EP Burning Flesh… but I think that each CD is unique by its elements and the way it sounds, and we do not mind about making every album better than its predecessor, like doing a comparison between them… but we care about giving our best every time we produce Arkan’s music.

Also excellent vocals surely contribute to album perfection, from perfect murmur till clear voices...Who sings the clear male and female vocals in Groans of The Abyss, Lords Decline, Chaos Cypher and Defying the Idols?
Those voices were done by Sarah and I. Sarah is the lead singer of a Metal / Rock band named The Outburst, she’s Maghreban originate and the idea of using her voice to express her oriental side pleased her and she was quickly 100% involved in the project. Besides you can hear an Arabic male vocal on the songs Lamma Bada and Athaoura which is Adel’s voice, a singer from a traditional oriental music orchestra, who was also very interested by our approach of music. We wanted to use several types of vocals to ensure the variety of our album which explains our use of a large range of vocal themes from clean female to extreme raw death ones.

Absolute pearls are your traditional songs as Lamma Bada "Under the Spell of Haughtiness" and Athaoura "Shaped By The Hands Of Gods"...will you write similar songs also in future?
Definitely, is an aspect of Arkan’s music; we tried to make different combinations out of our different musical sides, so you can find pure Death metal or choir sections on an extreme double kick drum one, flamenco passages and pure oriental ones. Actually, Lamma Bada is a cover of a traditional song covered by many Arabic artists like Fairouz, not only we’re about to write pure traditional acoustic songs, but also we plan to make a cover song of the Arabian musical heritage on every record in the future.

How much complicated was the writing process and how long did it take?
Indeed, it had not been easy… but we had to stick to a plan that had been established at the outset of the composition of "Hilal". 
We first set the songs’ general structures, which had to stick to a clear path to get in tune with the album’s concept which tells a story. The lyrics on it were written almost simultaneously. The most difficult part however remained the arrangements part, since cohesion is an important element of the album. The composition of the pieces was randomly based on death Metal or acoustic. It took us a long time and much patience to achieve a complete uniformity. 
The integration of many other instruments was made naturally because we are able to play these instruments. But when it came to the vocals it was more difficult especially with the female singing part. We casted a large number of singers before finding out the right one. 

You have used many non-metal instruments, who have recorded them?
For the most of them it was Mus, Foued and me who recorded them, we were able to play those instruments what made the composition process easier like I said earlier. We asked our friends from an Algerian tradition gnawi band named Djemawi Africa to do some Derbouka and Madola parts, they were recorded in the famous Aminos Studio in Algiers, then we took those parts to the Studio Fredman to mix it with the rest. Looking back to this we found it funny to have a record from both Scandinavia and Maghreb…

Why have you chosen just Studio Fredman and Frederik Nordström? How long did recording take and what was the atmosphere in studio? Was it big experience for you to record straight in this studio?
We knew exactly, from the start, what Fredrik Nordström was capable of in terms of musical production and while composing our album we had some idea of the sound it would have. We wanted to have a production that meets the requirements in terms of power and clarity, especially when our music gets sophisticated sometimes. There was no better producer for us who could transcribe the power and melody of ARKAN’s music than Fredrik for us.

I'd like to know what are your lyrics about, how much important are they for you and what is your attitude to others bands lyrics in general? What is your philosophy and what does ARKAN word means?
Hilal tells some of the Sumerian civilisation episodes that deal with the loss of men, punished by Gods because of their sins. It is written as the same as a concept album and is chronologically composed, with each track following the other. Obviously, you could listen to every single track separately, but the story makes sense when you take the whole parts... The lyrics are worth listening because it was composed closely to the music. So much so that sometimes It lead us to delete irrelevant parts by their musical consistence. We pay great attention to the lyrical content hence the stories told and the messages add an additional dimension to the music.
Our philosophy lies in the fact that the lyrics must stick to the musical atmosphere to transcend the whole.
Then, on the band’s name : Arkan in Arabic means "Pillars". It has a strong meaning to us because it is primarily a line of conduct in order to be respected - a port with our ancestors. It is the link between what we are and what we were. A native of the southern countries, whose traditions, culture, music are at odds with our lives in Europe, we need a certain balance. Arkan is a kind of guideline.

What is the life in French? Do you like French mentality?
We are as attached to the French way of living than our origins; actually it’s our daily way of life and we feel ourselves as much French as Maghreban. These two sides of our origins are kind of a heritage for us and we’re proud of it. France is a multicultural country and we are happy to have the opportunity to express our music and our artistic outlook. The French audience is very open-minded and thirsty of new musical experiences and that tolerance motivated us to push the oriental elements at their peak in our music and the way we play metal.

Besides Arabic Oriental you mentioned also North Africa's influences. What attracts you on African music? Which other kinds of music are you listening?
The North African Chaabi is one of our biggest influences since it was always in our musical background during our childhood; it’s a rich music with both oriental and Andalusia roots, I guess rhythm is what attracts us the most in that African music; rhythm plays a large role in it and we found it easy to mix it with Death metal since Death metal deals a lot with rhythm. Besides the openness plays a large role in our composition process; therefore we try to put together different ingredients and see what happens! Take the intro of the song “Defying The Idols” which is an electro-beat rhythm with a Mandola playing along, or the epic part of the song “Lords Decline” where you can hear a choir singing along a blast beat section. We have a big inspiration coming from oriental music, and an even bigger from metal of course, beyond that, we have other musical horizons we can draw our inspiration of to make interesting combinations, like classical music or world music. To tell the truth, there are no boundaries set to our references.
Talking about oriental music for instance; we have a big inspiration coming from Eastern artists like Oum Kelthoum, Farid El Atrache, Abdelhalim Hafedh and other North African like Hadj El Anka and Dahmane El Harrachi.

Are you going to play live also abroad? By the way, where is your biggest fan base?
Our music is basically a live music, the album being just a mean of promoting the band. We’ve done several gigs in our hometown and we have a good fan base here in Paris, but we look forward to promote Hilal out of our boundaries, we hope to be welcomed by the audience the way our album had been; we had nice feedbacks and good reviews across Europe about Hilal and we are currently implementing the proposals that are given to us to hit the road; maybe we will come by your home by 2008 early 2009.

Sure you agree that every band should have own MySpace site today, some bands have even only MySpace site...Your official and MySpace sites have great running graphics. The same I can say about your logo etc. Who cares of these matters?
We use Calligraphy in our artworks and logo, calligraphy is a major art in the Arabian culture; its development was considerable especially since the iconography was not permitted in Islamic culture. Through this approach we are trying not only to mix cultures musically but to do it also graphically.
We worked with EvilCampbell Design on that graphics and they were able to transfigure the bands spirit and respond to our needs when it came to our graphical identity. The result was in line with our expectations.

Ok, Abder that would be all from me. I am pleased I could make interview with such superior band. Many successes in all!
My pleasure! Thanks a lot for this interview and greetings to the Necrosphere webzine readers.

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