Black Metal is a genre in which the lyrics tend to focus on a strong anti-religious stance. For most of the bands you might have heard of, the source of the artists is likely Christianity. For the most part, the bands are protected in this by various freedom of speech laws, excluding obvious examples like the Polish government taking BEHEMOTH to court over tearing up a bible. The source of AL-NAMROOD’s inspiration is not Christianity, it’s Islam. They reside in Saudi Arabia where the mere production of their art could land them a death sentence. It’s easy to speak out when there are no real consequences, but when they are that severe it’s hard for them not to earn at least a little respect.
AL-NAMROOD are named after the biblical character of Nimrod, a figure that is credited with building the tower of Babel. God took this to be an affront and scattered the workers to the four corners of the Earth. He cursed them to each speak a different tongue so that they may never return to work on the tower again. Their latest release Wala’at (ولاءات (meaning: Loyalties)) is a return to form for the trio following 2017’s Enkar.
The album opens with Al Hirah (Possibly named after the Mesopotamian city that was important in early Islam), a short instrumental piece that almost has a heartbeat pulsating throughout and sets the stage for the use of more traditional Arabic musical elements to be used later on. It then launches into Sarah Yaesa, which whilst starting in a typically aggressive way is actually marginally mellower than fans of the genre might be expecting. I think this is so that that they can reincorporate the more traditional elements without becoming overly complicated. One of the first things that hit me was just how clean their sound was, it didn’t sound as lo-fi as some of their more orthodox Black Metal contemporaries might instead everything has been captured well and is presented in a style that might make it an easier band for new fans of the style to get into.
Al Shareef Al Muhan is perhaps the track that stands out most to me on this release, it favours shorter phrases in its vocals creating a feeling of urgency that would be difficult to replicate otherwise. The delivery feels more like a hardcore staple than traditional Black Metal, with the vocalist often sounding breathless. It’s a lot more western in its sound, limiting the instruments to that which would ordinarily be staples of the genre although some impression of microtonality still exists creating that Middle Eastern almost snake-like feel to the riffs.
I was a fan of AL-NAMROOD before hearing this, and to no one’s surprise I remain one after hearing it. I’m always a fan of when bands bring their culture’s musical tropes to the scene and it’s becoming a lot more common with bands like BLOODYWOOD and ALIEN WEAPONRY becoming more prominent. I think that if AL-NAMROOD can keep up the quality of their releases, they’ll be around in the scene for at least another decade. This will definitely encourage a wider diversity of sounds in the rock and metal library.
Words: Jacob McCrone
Wala’at will be released Monday via Shaytan Productions.
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