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ARKAZUM (Muzakra) CD

Some of you will remember guitarist/bassist Mark 'Griff' Griffiths from the days of early Cathedral because he was one of the co-founders, together with Lee Dorrian. After the release of the excellent 'Soul Sacrifice' 12", he left the band and opened a new musical chapter with Year Zero who released two criminally underrated albums for Hellhound Records. Shortly after this, Mark Griffiths joined the post-Carcass band Blackstar before he vanished from my screen all of a sudden. I think it was a pity, because he was always able to pull off some great heavy riffs and his talents as a songwriter made him a welcome guest in my collection. So it is no surprise that I often asked myself if Mark Griffiths withdrawn completely from the heavy music scene.

Suddenly in 2011, I received an answer in the form of ARKAZUM, and as you can imagine, it was a great pleasure for me to hear that he is still active. ARKAZUM is his most recent musical project and 'Muzakra' is the first self-financed debut which shows that Mark is willing to tread new paths. To turn the argument round, those who believe that 'Muzakra' is cram-full with doom metal are completely wrong. In contrast to his early bands, ARKAZUM moves strongly towards progressive hardrock regions. Although one can hear plenty of heavy riffs, there are also a lot of keyboards, which results in a subliminal space rock edge. The union of both elements runs smoothly, though, I have to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of cheesy 1970's keyboard sounds. But due to the hard rockin' riffs I can tolerate that.

There are always elements which remind me of Year Zero, but it is obvious that this is just Mark Griffiths' significant style. The most unusual songs are definitely 'Initiation' as well as 'Zumlight'. Whereas the first track is based on a mechanical rhythm and an oriental sounding vocal line (I can well imagine a dub remix of that tune), the second one is infected with a trippy, hypnotic groove. But it is not only in this place that ARKAZUM is open for experiments and you can really feel that Mark Griffiths had much fun to find complete expression. The only thing, which disturbed me, is the overall sound of 'Muzakra', that is too artificial for my taste. Let's note, though, that he's definitely not the most talented singer on this planet and a bit of veriety wouldn't have hurt. Nonetheless, 'Muzakra' is a very entertaining debut and I am rather curious if there will more ARKAZUM in the future. I personally welcome the new path taken by Mark Griffiths, even when I needed some time of getting used to the album.