Album Title: 
Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq
Release Date: 
Friday, March 14, 2014
Review Type: 

My first acquaintance with Al-Namrood was when I bought Kitab Al Awthan in 2012 (yes, I do still buy lots of stuff myself instead of downloading it; Metalzone’s logo, or at least one of their logos, is: ‘real metalheads buy hard copies’; if you do not want to f*ck up the scene completely, you need to get rid of your pathetic avarice and miserliness and [self-censorship…]).

Apparently this Saudi-Arabian act was active for quite a period, or better, there were several releases, amongst two other full lengths, since their birth in 2008. What I did appreciate about the album I bought was the unique combination of Black Metal and Arab / oriental elements. When it comes to the first, I was truly impressed, for this band’s Black Metal was enormously intense, and intelligently and professionally performed. There are more bands that try to combine (Black) Metal with traditional and/or ethnic sounds, but often the Metal-quality is way beneath any level. In Al-Namrood’s case it was a massive fist in the face of certain godly entities…

Anyway, once again via Canada’s Shaytan Records, Al-Namrood come with a new full length studio album, and forgive me for not using the right type, but let’s entitle it as Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq. The album lasts for almost forty minutes and goes on in a comparable mood. As from the very first moments it is clear that there are no compromises to be made. The record mixes heavy guitar riffs and pounding rhythms with so-called tremolo-melodies and melodious riffs à la Melechesh, and some dissonant contradictory structures. And of course this gets joined by traditional elements from the Arab peninsula, going for the use of ethnic instruments as well as some specific melody lines.

A few remarks, however, have to be made. The production, to start with, is way beneath acceptance. Damn, it sounds as if it were recorded in a container; listen to that terrible drum sound, the hollow bass lines; it is not acceptable, unfortunately, and enormously disappointing. Of course it has to do with the clandestine raison d’être of this project, for they do hail from a country that is not that open-minded when it comes to this kind of musical explorations. So I will forgive them… Secondly, the vocals are much different from the past. No more blackish screams, yet rather throaty shouts and grunts, sounding like a barbarian having his haemorrhoids removed with a rusty knife without any narcosis. Tertio: the average quality of the tracks. Well, nothing to dislike in case you can appreciate this slightly weird combination of slightly Second Wave-oriented Black Metal tradition (though the sound of East-Europe is more applicable than the Scandinavian one, to give a direction) with melodies that make you dream of belly dancers, Aladdin or water pipes… But in any case, despite these quasi-exotic elements, this stuff is pretty harsh and intense, and not that badly performed at all (but that surely was an evidence for me). So, in case you can agree with stuff in the vein of Melechesh, Absu and the likes, you will surely adore this material!

Finally this: the net teaches me there is not a vivid scene in Saudi-Arab (surprise surprise!), but there seem to be about ten, maybe fifteen other (Doom, Death and Black Metal) bands. Since I do know, and appreciate, a handful of bands I do know from e.g. Bahrein, Iran, the U.A.E. or Jordan, I wonder if I will search more deeply to get this stuff. I think it is worth to deepen into…