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Alkana was an American hard rock band that exemplified characterized may traits of the upcoming NWOBHM. Formed in San Bernardino, CA, Alkana released only one album in 1978 before splitting up.
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ALKANA Welcome to My Paradise album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Welcome to My Paradise
Hard Rock 1978

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ALKANA Welcome to My Paradise

Album · 1978 · Hard Rock
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siLLy puPPy
ALKANA was a short lived hard rock band that formed in San Bernardino and created a brand of early metal that seemed to have been the link between the hard rock sounds of Boston and the early NWOBHM bands. Led by guitarist Danney Alkana who was obviously strongly influenced by guitarists ranging from Ritchie Blackmore to Boston’s Tom Scholz, this band has become an underground cult favorite and the sole album WELCOME TO PARADISE has become one of those legendary albums of the underdogs such as Legend’s “From The Fjords” or the South Dakota band Asia’s “Armed To The Teeth.” This band was also notable for lead singer Jack Rucker who after changing his name to the more metal sounding Damien King I would enjoy a brief stint with the San Jose band Warlord.

If anything ALKANA shows how the sounds that would be termed “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” were also gestating in the USA at the same time as WELCOME TO PARADISE sounds very much like some of early NWOBHM albums of the early 80s however ALKANA was a bit more experimental as it cranked out not only a heavy form of Boston inspired hard rock but also created some of those classic metal riffs that Judas Priest would become most famous for. Also there are traces of more art rock oriented bands like Queen and with the addition of the 11 minute plus track “The Tower” some clear references to the prog world of the early 70s. Alongside Alkana on guitar and Rucker on vocals was bassist Craig Williams and drummer Donny McLaughlin.

Riding on the wave of the 1976 debut by Boston which raised the bar for creating harmonic guitar sweeps and taking hard rock out of the bluesy biker bar paradigm, ALKANA was all about adding more intricate touches to its heavy guitar riffs based grooves with a twin guitar deliver that would become more mainstream as the 80s clocked in. Of the seven tracks on WELCOME TO PARADISE, the heavy guitar riffs are the dominant feature. Some tracks like “Paradise” have experimental parts such as the bass heavy intro whereas the prog behemoth “The Tower” which begins with a dream intro and crafts one of those atmospheric fantasy tales of yore. This one slowly cranks up the tension with heavier passages that has some interesting developments outside the normal hard rock paradigm followed by a proggy sort of instrumental workout. Once again the clear references to Tom Schulz are full display and sometimes sounds as if he himself is actually in the band.

While perhaps not a long lost masterpiece of the early hard rock meets heavy metal world, ARKANA definitely cranked out a very strong album where no tracks are bad at all. The rhythms are tight and the vocals are spot on to lead the melodic hard rock drive however he would refine his vocal style and sound much better on the Warlord albums. Danney Alkana seemed to have disappeared after this after the band broke up. While wallowing in obscurity since its original vinyl release, the album has seen at least one CD release and deserves to be given more attention. Strong songwriting and melodic hooks make this instantly catchy and most interestingly is how the band had prognosticated where the early metal scene was heading which makes this an interesting case of asking why Britain got all the credit for this style of sound so perhaps we needs a new anagram like NWOAHM (New Wave of American Heavy Metal.) That would fix things.

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