Arkado – “Open Sea”


Swedish melodic rock band Arkado fire again with their sophomore release “Open Sea.” They first burst on the scene way back in 1983 as BB2, which stood for Better Be Together. The highlight of their early stint was a single song for the local football club, Ödåkra IF which I believe is still played today at home games. Around 1987, they went into hibernation for about thirty years. Getting together for the 90th anniversary of the football club, they performed their one song for the celebration with the understanding that it would be a one-off performance. Afterwards, they decided to give it another go with new music. They reformed as Arkado in 2018 and released their debut album “Never Say Never” in 2020 which saw them playing a melodic rock style with a nostalgic feel. After four years, they come back with their next offering.

My initial listen highlights a lot of the high points for the album. They play an emotionally driven rock style that fashions the group more as lovers than fighters with sweet vocal melody as the carrying banner. The instruments set the mood well with a dense orchestration of guitars, synth and drums, focusing on the underlying emotions of the song. Super clean production makes this a release worth noticing in the genre of melodic rock/AOR.

There is a diverse set of songs on the album each with their own unique character. Given their emotional focus, they often have a somewhat softer edge tending toward ballads, but there are some good uptempo hard rock tracks like “I Gave My Heart” and “Unchain the Night.” There are a couple of bona fide ballads in the mix like “You Make Me Feel” and “Show The Light Again,” with the balance of them being in this area in between which seems to be their sweet spot.

There is an uplifting quality to many of the songs as they tend to aim their cadences to the happy lands of major tonality after traversing darker sounding verses. There is often modulations through the course of the song that help guide the listener through the emotions of the song, which is their driving medium. With such a strong lead vocalist, this is a great move for the songwriting. The emotional heights of the songs are slightly inconsistent, but they all strive to tug on the heartstrings. The transitions between sections can be nebulous and melt from one section to the next without notice except for subtle chord changes. That really isn’t a complaint. I interpret this as experimentation that yields some success on the album with the hopes of huge dividends down the way.

On the technical side, I think that they have a great sense of rhythm that makes these songs enjoyable and catchy. The grooving guitar riff underlying “Running Through the Night” highlights this well along with the rhythmic interchanges in “Like Something Heaven Sent.” And they nail it on the endings of songs! They are thoughtful conclusions of a musical thought that I don’t hear enough of even from the heavy hitters. Their musical performance is good and does the trick for what they are aiming for. I like many of the musical riffs and motifs used throughout, particularly the piano opening on “Her Mother’s Lullaby” and the synth/vocal call and response on “Like Something Heaven Sent.” There are guitar solos in here, but played more for melody than demonstrating technical prowess. The goal is to reach rather than to impress the listener.

Production is tight and loud. The mix showcases the strengths of the band by highlighting vocals while blending them with the rest of the band. I felt that the synths could be elevated a little in the mix, but not by much and only in a couple of spots. It also is a loud recording which flattens much of the dynamics between sections, but I don’t think that it hurt the final product that much.

“Open Sea” is an unexpected and pleasant surprise. They are honing into their sound on this second album, which I hope to see them continue down this path in the eventual third full length from them. Although this is not my usual fare, it is a great break from the usual metal, so even if this is not what you are used to listening to, I would say that this is worth checking out. I am glad they are building a legacy beyond their one-off song for Ödåkra IF.

Rating: 8.0/10

Written by Sean Bailey

1 – Voyage
2 – Open Sea
3 – Running Through the Night
4 – I Gave My Heart
5 – You Make Me Feel
6 – Rising High
7 – Her Mother’s Lullaby
8 – Long Way To Go
9 – Unchain The Night
10 – Like Something Heaven Sent
11 – Show The Light Again

Arkado is:
Philip Lindstrand – guitar and lead vocals
Mikael Svensson – keyboards and backing vocals
Patrik Svärd – rhythm and lead guitars
Christer “Crille” Engholm – bass guitar
Mikael Skafar – drums
Tony Rohtla – rhythm and lead guitars

Release Date: February 23, 2024

Record Label: Pride & Joy Music

Social Media: Facebook / Spotify

Video for You Make Me Feel

Video for Open Sea

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