Back in 2009 Israeli Black/Death Metal outfit Arallu released ‘Desert Battles – Descending to the Sands’ and despite the album selling out, the band were never fully happy with the mix and so it was decided to re-record the vocals and remix the whole album. The result is ‘Desert Battles 2021’.
Arallu – Desert Battles 2021 (Ah Puch Records)
Release Date: 1 January 2021
Words: Jools Green
The new mixing and mastering was done by Dory Bar Or and the album also has a new cover art by Gal “Pixel”, along with two exclusive bonus tracks ‘Desert Battles’ and ‘Battleground’.
With regard to the original nine tracks that formed the main body, not only have they recorded the vocals and re-mixed everything, they have also rearranged the order the tracks are delivered in. Most notably the old outro ‘Al Macbara’ is now the new intro and ‘The Doom Beating’, the old intro is now the closing piece.
This, in all honesty, does work better this way around.
The new vocals are less raw, harsh and acerbic, with more depth, roundness and fullness to the delivery and less of a blackened slant. However, I actually like both sets of vocals.
Where the big improvement comes is in the rest of the sound. I can fully understand their dissatisfaction with the old mixing and mastering as it was very flat and two-dimensional before. Now there is much more depth to the sound making it a far better listening experience.
As always, the element which makes their sound most interesting is the use of Arabic and Middle Eastern instruments such as saz, oud, kanoon, darbuka, kongo toms and many other traditional instruments. This adds an Eastern flavour to their sound which is apparent in their riff and drum patterns, but is accentuated by these instruments. This is particularly true on ‘Old Form of Evil’, ‘Desert Battles’ and ‘The Demon Curse’.
Favourite tracks for me are the thrashy, d-beat rich ‘The Union of Babylon’ and the dark chugger ‘The Keeper of Jerusalem’.
‘Desert Battles 2021’ does give a further insight into how their sound developed, culminating in what for me, has been their best release to date, 2017’s ‘Six’.
But this remixed and re-mastered version certainly sounds considerably better than the original version.
‘Desert Battles 2021’ is out via Ah Puch Records on 1 January 2021.