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For All The Times We Fought For Variety - 90%

MelodicStorm, May 7th, 2011

The first time picking up Arafel’s For Battles Once Fought, I was reminded from the title of the many pagan black metal bands of which find them in this medieval theme. However, unlike many of them the opening epic “Sword's Hymn” starts too show why Arafel are the most successful Israel band in the metal scene. The production creates depth that makes the variety of the fills and blasts of the drums come into full width to the speakers of the listener. The guitars add to the constant barrage of noise with harsh, fast but tuneful writing advancing on progressive solos throughout the album.

Slower moments are, of course, in a folk influenced band, going to be present with “The Siege” and “1380- The Confrontation” the most noticeable of this. The music within these songs are with instruments such as fiddles, trumpets, triangles and all sorts of other wonderful things being used. Although the tension isn’t played that much other than the quick fighting scene in the opening track, the band does well to incorporate more tension and atmosphere sporadically throughout the album with “The Last Breath Of Fire” springing to mind as it’s favourable opener and operatic beginning make this album a little bit different than others. Some points of the album it reminds of Fferyllt, Ensiferum and others of that nature.

The only downfall is that there is too much to take in a lot of the time, whether it is the breaking triplets crashing down on the rampaging riffs or the fluttering of the harp and withering of the violin it gets too much for the ear. A once through listen is enough to satisfy the progressive metalhead and even that is hard as the album does get quite tiring listening to it due to the long songs. However, the album recovers well because of the huge variety and progressive outlook on development overall.

Overall the album is well rounded and sorted to the genre, it does however have a few mishaps along the way but nothing that does any real damage to the band’s credible achievement.

Arafel - For Battles Once Fought - 80%

motherfucker666, February 12th, 2011

‘For Battles Once Fought’ is my first acquaintance with this quintet from Tel Aviv, Israel. This however is the third long player by this lady and gentlemen. In their home country Arafel (which is the Hebrew word for “Fog”) seems to be quite successful and the band’s second album, Through The Flames Of Ages’ is apparently the best-sold album ever in Israel. Unfortunately I haven’t heard the band’s previous works, but if they offer the same quality as ‘For Battles Once Fought’, I can understand their success well.

The band is represented as black metal, but I can only partly agree on that. Epic black metal indeed has the upper hand, but Arafel also delivers death grunts and technical pieces a la Morbid Angel, sturdy thrash riffs and a lot of influences from Folk metal. Ex-Equilibrium shouter Helge Stang has been responsible for the vocals on this album and thanks to his voice, the music sounds even more diverse. Unlike many colleagues in this genre, Arafel keeps a good balance in between the different influences and merge them into a whole. The band also consists of talented musicians, who not only know their way around their instruments but also show strong song-writing skills and deliver tunes that make stand from the beginning to the end. The overall picture may not sound that original and the comparison with bands like Wolfchant, Dyrathor and Nomans Land is obvious, but thatnks to the death an thrash influences within the music and the use of technical riffs, Arafel does distinguish itself from the rest of the genre. They will also be able to apply to a broader audience.

The powerful production by the Wieslawski brothers (Hertz Studio, known from Behemoth, Vader and Decapitated a.o.) leaves no place for discussion and Kris Verwimp’s magnificent artwork completes the picture. Altogether ‘For Battles Once Fought’ is a great addition for fans of melodic black, Viking, pagan and battle metal.