Who is the African metal band which is already invited to play as an opener for KISS? It’s Arka’n Asrafokor!
Their music is not only the perfect instigation for a mosh pit, it is also a journey through Togolese culture, traditional music and spirituality. The band’s sound is remarkably heavy metal, yet distinct. There really is no other heavy metal band in the African continent infusing as much of their local sound through instrumentation as does Arka’n.
In 2020 they are about to take their 2019 album Zã Keli beyond the borders of the African continent to festivals like Eurockéennes or the Paleo Festival, where they have been asked to open for KISS.
Heavy Metal made in Africa – this label surely describes Arka´n, the Metal phenomenon from the West African country of Togo, but it does not do justice to the extraordinary sound the five musicians, Rock Ahavi - Guitar /Lead singer, Francis Amevo – Bass, Richard Tamakloe – Drums, Mass Aholou – Percussions , Enrico Ahavi – Keyboard/Rap Singing - have created over the years. A most certainly unique blend of tribal elements rooted in rhythmic cultures (Gazo, Blekete, etc…) from Africa and modern Heavy Metal Sounds, reminiscent of 90s giants of the genre such as KORN, P.O.D. or the raw and powerful sound of Trash Metal legends Sepultura.
The vocals of front man Rock Ahavi come in an impressive range and swing from an aggressive growling to harmonic singing, perfectly accompanying the slower and acoustic songs the band has in its repertoire. The rap singing is a brilliant addition to the more traditional aspects and rather than stepping away from local languages, the band members perform in their traditional language of Ewe as well as French and English. It is about keeping their music rooted as close to home as possible. Arka’n is a reflection of where they are mentally and spiritually. This is more than just a band to them - it is an extension of their identity. They see themselves as warriors, messengers and spokesmen of African wisdom, and their lyrics deal with almost all the aspects of life, especially, how to keep a fighting spirit, tackle social problems, knowledge of self, wisdom, call of higher beings.
“Our family came from a warrior family, so they raised a warrior spirit inside of us.”
Infusing heavy metal with traditional aspects goes beyond thematic for the band, as they are incorporating unlikely instruments as the gankogui (a local cowbell), axatse (a percussive shaker), Evù drums, djembe as well as the West African talking drum - listeners stand to hear (and see) just how Arka’n chooses to interpret heavy metal.
The band also focuses strongly on the earth as a recurring theme in their lyrics. Their country, their continent, and our planet are very much on their minds when they compose, a strong reflection of their Ewe culture in which they were raised to respect the laws of the earth.
“If you don’t respect the earth, that’s when the wars are starting. Nature can’t go far”
Since their founding in 2009 the band is familiarizing the audience at home with their thrash and groove metal influences playing extensively in West Africa (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin…) - now in 2020 they are about to take their 2019 album Zã Keli beyond the borders of the African continent to festivals like Eurockéennes or the Paleo Festival, where they have been asked to open for KISS.
“For me, metal comes from Africa. That’s why it’s so easy for me to blend the inspiration of both [styles] of music. For me, it's not about being told what to do. We can do everything.”