Black metal is truly a world phenomenon. The darkness inherent in the genre obviously translates to all cultures and countries, as proven by Saudi Arabian black metallers Al-Namrood (‘the non-believer’). It’s obvious that the anti-religious ethic also translates. I’m excited by this release, as it is an example of exactly how far people are willing to go for their art. Saudi Arabia is a place where blasphemy and apostasy is punishable by death, and for a band to take black metal, notorious for both of these themes, and create something in such an inhospitable environment is nothing short of shocking. It is due out at the end of November on Shaytan Productions.
‘Diaji Al Joor’ is full of the more obvious Middle Eastern effects, from instruments to eastern scales and ritualistic wails. ‘Dhaleen’ as an intro encompasses this entirely, as does the scything blackness of ‘Zamjara Alat’. Al-Namrood’s music feels even more genuine and authentic due to their circumstances. In comparison, Western Christianity is a lame duck for Satanic black metal bands. But Al-Namrood’s enemy is altogether more real and threatening. Musically, Al-Namrood tread a similar path to the likes of Melechesh, but significantly blacker and harsher. The thrumming acoustics of ‘Ejhaph’ accompany an almost ritualistic mid paced black metal number.
‘Adghan’ is the first truly impressive piece. A dense, buzzing riff is beset by growling vocals and a wailing flute, while acoustic parts create that desert vibe. Each part meshes together to create a true representation of Middle Eastern Black Metal. ‘Ya Le Taasatekum’ sways and lurches with ethnic melodies and an unhinged vocal performance. ‘Diaji Al Joor’ is a record that improves as it goes on. Once you peel back the layers of ethnic instrumentation, underneath you find a black metal album that takes much from the second wave of Norwegian black metal. Once the Arabian influence fades into your mind as an essential part of the music, rather than a gimmicky addition, tracks like ‘Ana Al Tughian’ become all the more effective.
Al-Namrood could be seen as the spiritual successors to the church burners of Norway in the 90s. That was the last time black metal and its mantra was truly as dangerous as Al-Namrood’s existence. ‘Diaji Al Joor’ is an album that demands repeated listens to unlock its true potential, but once you get into it, you’ll never get out. Get ready to be buried in suffocating sands.