Review of the Album Unearth by French Symphonic Metal Band Hamka
Hamka Is a Special Kind of Power Metal Band
Hamka is a French symphonic metal band with ethnic musical influences. At least that is the description that is given to this band. Hamka is also the band that former Dark Moor vocalist Elisa Martin sings on even in 2020. 2005 was ages ago or so it seems but it is really comforting to know that Elisa isn’t done singing after all which is a welcome sort of relief for those of us that enjoy the power metal genre. This may be somewhat ironic but the process for this review being composed started on August 3, 2020 which also happens to be Elisa’s 48th birthday. I don’t know if I knew that I was going to review one of this band’s albums but Hamka is a band that I had heard of for a while.
The band’s name originates from an old Tibetan goddess. Hamka may be just a bit unique among power metal bands in the sense that this album has four instrumental songs and you will see why this is a good strategy later on in the review.
Hamka's Lyrical Themes
France still is a nation that may not quite yet be fully recognized as a place that is growing in the metal genre but it certainly is. The album being reviewed is Hamka’s debut album Unearth. Reference was made to the year 2005 because that is when this album came out. Lyrically, Hamka is similar to many other power metal bands and they cover lyrics about kings and older civilizations.
However, Unearth is not an album without flaws. Some might wonder why we are talking about the flaws of an album in the beginning. This is because you are getting advance notice that even though this is a power metal album some of the songs can feel like they drag on with that muddy power metal sound. Then there are songs such as the beautiful video game influenced song Rising Atlantis.
Having said that, here we go with France’s Hamka. The album Unearth starts off with the kind of instrumental song that is written in such a way that you would hear it as part of a soundtrack for a movie. I wasn’t a music major but the way that this song is constructed with the cymbals, drumming, and classical style orchestration, it is an ideal way to begin an album from a band that many still do not know of.
Analysis of the Songs "Ignition" and "Ghosts of Desert"
Then comes the powerful song called Ignition and the song has riffing that resembles both Angra and Labyrinth. You can tell by the style of keyboard play and the riffing which is kind of muffled like Rhapsody of Fire did during the Fabio Lione era. For those of you that missed hearing Elisa’s vocals after she left Dark Moor and after Dreamaker disbanded, Hamka is another band that she is involved in and she is at least indirectly contributing to the music scene of France. Just like Dreamaker, there are a few rough vocal parts followed by Elisa’s powerful vocals. “Ghosts of Desert” starts off with some exotic guitar play and this sounds like what you would hear in an Arab speaking country except it is done by a metal band.
Songs Such As Sand Glass and Eden Garden Have Important Messages In Them
“Sand Glass” is a song that describes a situation where a group of people have lived in the mountains for centuries and they have lived in peace away from the world of time. What if we could escape from the concept of time altogether? The time that most of us think of is clock time. The song lyrically also says that because of human jealousy, the planet is suffering. Analyzing the song Sand Glass, I get the sense that the band is trying to say that we should do what we can to create a world where there is more harmony and peace where people can better coexist with each other. Eyes of Twilight is divided into two parts, the first of which is a short instrumental and the second part us once again a thundering power metal song that is influenced by Angra. The middle of this song has a decent keyboard part before the solos kick in and the keyboards alternate. Songs such as Eden Garden though have a very important message and the song is encouraging us to do what we can to live our dreams. We have to have the will to change and we must see that our lives are really in our hands. The Buddha once said that “all that we are is the result of what we have thought.” It is through the power of thought combined with action that will enable us to live our dreams. That aside, Eden Garden is one of those songs that the message can and should resonate with fans of the genre.
Final Thoughts About the Album Unearth
Legend’s Empire Part 1 is the 3rd instrumental song on this album with a nice string arrangement and once again, we have the soft sounds that make it sound like a modern video game but nonetheless this is a good approach by Hamka because this helps to break up the monotony of fantasy based lyrical songs right after the other. The 4th and final instrumental song on Unearth is called An End on Earth? Yes that is a song with a question mark at the end of it. Overall, Unearth marks a triumphant return for Elisa Martin as this Angra, Rhapsody of Fire, and Dream Theater influenced album will be a good album to listen to but only if you have heard the early Dark Moor albums and the first Fairyland album. Hamka has an interesting musical approach for their debut and the songs are good overall. It is just that they are not good enough to spark the interest of fans for an elite power metal release.
© 2020 Ara Vahanian