Many people can see a gimmick like having ethnic instruments as silly or even unnecessary at times, and I couldn’t disagree more. Of course, it varies upon the execution, but instruments like that are virtually never used unless it’s to enhance the experience which felts effortless most of the time in my experience. It’s been incredibly too long since I’ve heard something with a solid Middle Eastern flair that just sounds amazing, and I was craving some today. After some digging on Bandcamp, it was the treat of Akvan that I found my way to.
I’m very much a fan of Al-Namrood and Whispered who both use ethnic instruments to really bring special flavors into the mix that only a handful of other bands in the entire world even attempt much less pull off half decently. It’s probably been since Azooma’s 2016 album, “The Act of Eye”, that I’ve even thought about the Iranian metal scene and somehow I was led to Akvan who, as you might guess, hails from Iran. The country isn’t exactly what we’d call a hotspot for metal, but with its art, literature, and history I find it odd that more bands like Akvan aren’t running around using all that as heavy influences. But there’s nothing super grand about what Akvan does with his latest EP, “Esfandiyar”, as it’s but two tracks of some black metal with some death metal thrown in there for good measure that’s backed by some Middle Eastern ethnic instruments that truly make the EP for me all the way. In plenty of ways, “Esfandiyar” is a real surprise for me because I really wasn’t expecting it to be as interesting as it turned out to be. Akvan plays off the influences incredibly well and performs the instruments beautifully while at the same time contrasting them with hard-hitting metal that’s savory all on its own. I’ve seen some acts try to make something grand and multi-faceted with a premise like this, but Akvan keeps things relatively simple which is still enjoyable in a lot of ways from how well “Esfandiyar” flows as an EP to how immaculate the instrumentation is from top to bottom.
I could’ve easily done a review for Akvan’s longer album that has caused a slight bit of commotion, but “Esfandiyar” caught my attention so much that I can’t help but rave over it. Everything that Akvan went for with this EP was pulled off amazingly well and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into everything that Akvan has done before nor can I wait to see what else this guy has in store. This is the kind of stuff I love discovering, and I’ve no doubt that “Esfandiyar” is but the tip of the iceberg.
LISTEN to “Esfandiyar” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Akvan on Facebook here.
FOLLOW Akvan on Twitter: @OfficialAkvan