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Arcana XXII
Barren Land
September 2001
Released: 2000, Independent
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: CrashTest

Arcana XXII are a five piece band from Namibia. Where the hell is Namibia, you may ask? Honestly, I don’t know either, but it’s somewhere in South Africa and from what I can gather from the bio that was sent with the CD, these guys are damn proud of it. Last time I checked, South Africa isn’t the most fertile metal landscape. You gotta respect guys who are passionate enough about metal that, despite the odds being heavily stacked against them, they are venturing out to make a name for themselves.

Arcana XXII play some rather traditional, occasionally progressive, heavy metal, often coming off with a somewhat Maiden-esque feel. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the best song of the four song demo, the title track Barren Land. Clocking in at more than six minutes, the song is epic in nature, featuring time changes and a traditional Maiden gallop, though without as much giddy up. And that leads me to the biggest problem with the CD. The back cover says the whole thing was recorded and mixed in eighteen hours and I don’t doubt it for a second. The sound is very raw, which means there are some pacing and timing problems throughout and the vocals are a little strained and unpolished at times. This makes the music a little hard to absorb, but I found that after a good half dozen listens I was beginning to catch a sense of where these guys are coming from. With some more time together honing their skills and a good producer to iron out some of the wrinkles, songs like the said title track and Untold would create a solid backbone on which to craft an entire album.

My crystal ball has been in the repair shop for a few weeks so I can’t forecast the future for Arcana XII. Yet ... I have a hunch based on the raw talent displayed here and the passion that these guys have to make metal that they just may burst the bands of the barren metal land from which they hail and find themselves signed to a label that will give them a good push. Everybody loves an underdog and in the end I find myself rooting for these guys to make it.

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» Barren Land
by CrashTest

» Your Fatal Embrace
by Enygma

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