Palestinian rock/metal band Khalas’s “Arabic Rock Orchestra” review
Anyone that has read this blog knows my passion for rock and metal music, and additionally my interest in how this music is interpreted by bands from the Middle East and North Africa. I have posted about Khalas a few times before, sometimes to introduce them for pure aesthetic appeal and also for fundraising. They have been working on, and raising money for, their newest album Arabic Rock Orchestra for a great deal of time. After many hours invested, the band finished the album and sent it to me (all the way from their native Palestine) as they promised a long time ago. It arrived this week, much to my joy as I had been a fan for some time.
The style of Khalas is rather interesting to an individual such as myself (i.e. an ethnomusicologist). The band is able to blend classical Arab genres and approaches (such as the taqasim and various maqamat) and instruments (like the oud and darabukka), whilst simultaneously utilizing heavy metal and hard rock instruments and stylistic approaches. The band themselves state:
“Khalas originated from the new Arabic and Oriental scene that is currently emerging in the Middle East. The Palestinian band inoculates sensual Arabic beats and lyrics with aggressive metal riffs. bread on various musical moods, such as AC/DC, Black Sabbath, etc… and stars from the Arab World: Muhammad Abdelwahab, Om Kolthum and Asmahan. The band composes original sounds while getting strong inspiration from the classical Arabic repertoire. All of which ruthlessly embedded with Rock and Metal arrangements.”
Every member of the group is a superb musician, and as evidenced by Arabic Rock Orchestra, clearly has a strong understanding of what playing as a band means. They never overpower each other, instead playing as one powerful machine that opens the mind of the listener to new sonic possibilities.
Khalas really are pioneers, as the rock and metal scene in the Middle East is still growing (and in certain places, very controversial), and they are in many ways an example to their contemporaries. The ethnic identity of the band is present at every crunching guitar riff and crushing bass drum hit on Arabic Rock Orchestra. The sound of Khalas is truly unique, as they are able to blend their culture’s music with heavy metal in a way that rock fans around the world can pump their fist to.
The album from start to finish, bluntly, kicks ass. It is the type of CD you blast in the car to let people know that you are a metal fan and they just have to deal with it. Every single song is filled with the utmost passion for music and for life, and you know that you are truly experiencing something unique with Arabic Rock Orchestra.
Additionally, Khalas use their music for peace, standing with Israeli musicians (this can be seen on the MTVU program Rebel Music) to bring change to their region and stop the bloodshed. The fact that they make such incredible music, and also have such an incredible message, makes Khalas a band you must listen to.
This review began with the start of my blog. I wanted to review an album by Khalas, and they were working on this album at the time. That was in July of 2012. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that the guys were able to find the funds to crank Arabic Rock Orchestra out. This music is amazing, and you would be wise to pick up a copy for yourself.
Khalas’s new album can be found at:
Khalas can be found at: