Album Review: Aarlon – “Dafan” (Rock/Metalcore)

Written by: Valkyrjiaa

Release Date: March 22nd, 2022

Alternative Rock/Metalcore from New Delhi, India

Label: Independent

FFO: What Escapes Me, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Devin Townsend

One of few bands in India who brings their mother tongue to the Metal community, Aarlon strives to offer a new musical perspective towards rock/metal to a wider section of the Indian community, as well as abroad. Often passed off as being noisy and meaningless, Aarlon incorporates their language into the Metal world to bring balance to a relationship that’s been less than stable.

Incorporating a variety of sounds ranging from ethereal guitars, to punchy rhythms and astounding vocals, Aarlon drops in with an 8-track album titled ‘Dafan’. It is a deeply melancholic record, inspired by the first wave of alt rock from the 90s while delving deep into the psyche of darkness and hopelessness that plagues mankind.

The first track is titled “Vidroh”, and while I’m no expert to the language, it’s not hard to detect the emotion and personal connection that this track has from the very beginning. Vocals are astronomical in both range and execution, flowing well from intense and harsh to high and gentle with notes being held without quiver or collapse. Guitars are high caliber in their sound and output, with the thunder of drums punching you in the face and leaving you awe-struck. It’s not what was expected jumping into this album, and it comes off as more than a pleasant surprise. You can feel the layers of falling emotion with each verse, slamming into the intensity of the chorus before taking a step back to reflect once more. There’s angst, sorrow, and hopelessness that are left bare and open for the world to witness.

“Panchhi” rolls in second with an ambient mix of cheerful bird song, and light acoustics against the backing sound of a gentle stream. Vocals come in delicate, playing off the atmosphere that’s been building to offer reflection and exploration of self, taking in the dark while trying to find that glimmer of light in hope. It’s more on the rock-side, as opposed to the previous track, and gives us a taste of the range that Aarlon has over its chosen genres. As the melody picks up pace with the rumble of drums, and the upbeat mixture of guitars, this track still sticks to its reflective theme, playing off its emotional experiences with passionately expressed vocals and a blend of musical highs and lows that vividly paint the picture of a journey of self-discovery.

Rolling in on tantalizing guitar chords is “Rok Lo”. It’s got an almost SOAD feel to it, carving itself deep into the Alt Rock genre with heavy drums, strong riffs, and a solid blend of harsh and clean vocals. As we move from track to track on this album, we fall deeper into what feels like a forgotten Suicide note, or lost Love Letter plagued with ‘what-ifs’ and ‘left undone’. You need not know the language to truly appreciate the expression of this album, with tones and ambiance filling the lack of knowledge with all that needs to be understood. While this track starts in heavy and foreboding, there are moments of light, and hopefulness that paint a smile in our minds.

“Tu” plays off acoustic sound, giving me a reminiscent sense of 90’s ballads and lost-love songs from bands like Jimmy Eat World, and The All-American Rejects. It’s light and airy, utilizing the background sounds to once again build a gentle-hearted atmosphere that lures us in. This is the halfway point, and I’m not at all surprised we got a deep ballad with the skillful range that Aarlon has shown us thus far. You still have the solid drumbeats, founding bass, and vicious guitars that we crave but, we get the tenderness that Metal and Rock have to offer in all their glory. Vocals are cascading, soaring on wondrous highs before falling to cold lows, taking us on an exploration of memory and risk-taking.

The light feeling flows on through “Saavan,” as the relief we felt in “Tu” fades, and we come to realize that we have fallen for a sweet release. Unable to cope and continue forward, we hear the lows in the background, dancing on the eerie harmony of hopelessness with a hint of dread that brings in reality all too quickly. We feel detached, or estranged, while masking ourselves over with loss as if to hide the overwhelming burden of despair now plaguing both mind and heart.

As we move forward, we are met with “Aaina” that comes off almost warm and welcoming. It’s as if we are wandering down a corridor of pure white light, yearning for some sweet release yet, unable to comprehend just who we truly are. Are we worthy of this light? Of this beauty? Or is this merely another path forward on our endless journey? It gives me Neverending White Lights vibes with its dance-y back-beat and melody that stays steady with light drums, lightly strummed chords, and gentle bass. It gives me an eerie sense of longing, utilizing different chords to amplify the disillusion in our hearts as it slides up and down the emotional scale making us ask further questions.

“Inquilaab” seems to fight the ideals of Society and the expectations that come from privilege as the band not only spoke of in both their own aspirations, as well as the inspirations for this album. It’s a heavy hitter that rounds out the soft and gentle with more anger and desperation to be heard. The emotional gauge has shifted, and we are faced with the choice of fighting back or falling down, and the new generation isn’t about to back down. The brilliant breakdowns and intensity of this track are in perfect contrast to the lighter verses that are mixed in, offering us a true painting of emotional reflection in the way that human nature can shift from anger to sorrow, and relentlessness in an instant.

The title track from the album, “Dafan” completes this 8-track experience; rounding out our emotional journey, the lightness of the harmonies, combined with the airy vocals come off as a calling from beyond. A yearning to say what went unspoken as the heaviness comes in through polished riffs and fluid drumming, this track puts us before a mirror, to not only reflect on ourselves on the outside but, to look deeper and fix what’s within. However, as inspirations go, a journey truly has no beginning nor end as it is simply that – a journey.

The Bottom Line:

Aarlon bring an absurd amount of range and talent on this album, boasting brilliant ballads, ferocious drops, and a vocal command that leaves me in awe. Their drive to bring an understanding to Metal and Alt Rock in more than a sense of noise to their own community is not only expressed in their music but, in their willingness to push forward and perform a brilliant array of skill, talent, and creativity that’s astonishing to be a part of. If you’re looking for a bit of a throwback, with some insane drops and different takes on what Metal truly means, you’ve gotta jump into this album!

Favourite Tracks: Vidroh, Panchhi, Inquilaab, Dafan