The Scandinavians lay claim to all things "kvlt" and "extreme" in the world of black metal, but do any of the members of these bands risk government-sanctioned execution merely for their lyrical content? I think not. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is a different culture entirely, and Al-Namrood risk their very safety to spread their message against the influence religion has on their society.
Al-Namrood (a reference to the Babylonian king Nimrod) is a three-piece blackened Arabian folk metal outfit where the members operate clandestinely and rail against the Islamic sharia that controls their nation — control that extends from education to marriage to free speech. While it’s easy to get caught up in the sheer balls of the band members, how does the music sound?
After the haunting instrumental opener, Dhaleen, the first actual song, Zamjara Alat, begins with a distinctly Arabian folk intro before launching into a mid-tempo stomp. Vocalist Mephisto eschews the high-pitched screams for a hybrid death metal/spoken word delivery. The song speeds up towards the back half for a bit before returning to its original tempo.
Hawas Wa Thuar opens in an almost doom metal-esque fashion before advancing into a marching beat. It should be mentioned at this point the lyrics are all Arabic, so I’m at a loss to their content, but it sounds like some angry stuff. This song has more electronic elements woven throughout giving it a near-industrial feel.
The rest of the album follows suit with traditional Arabic guitar tones atop pounding drums. The band stays in the slower tempo, only occasionally speeding things up for impact. The closest the band gets to traditional black metal is the first part of Ya Le Taasatekum which contains blast beats and higher-pitched screams more indicative of the genre than the previous songs.
Between the language barrier and the consistent tempo of the songs, it’s easy to lose track of which song you’re on, which is really the only fault I can give this album. However, the Arabic influence does set this apart from other black metal bands, and it’s a welcome change in my opinion.
If you’re looking for something different, Al-Namrood is certainly worth your time to check out. It may not be for everyone, but I quite enjoyed it. If nothing else, support a band who ultimately values their art above their personal safety.
Available at Amazon.com and other retailers.
Special thanks to Against PR for the complementary review copy.