In a subgenre obsessed with being kvlt, true, and underground, what’s more metal than risking your own life to tell your stories and share your beliefs through music? AL-NAMROOD is a Saudi Arabian black metal band, living in anonymity while being utterly uncompromising. The band released their 7th full-length album “Wala’at” on June 22nd through Shaytan Productions.
My adoration of basically any Arabic-influenced sounds in metal is probably well-known to anyone who’s ever let me rave about metal for more than seven minutes. AL-NAMROOD has a fantastic way of making black metal interesting by blending its rawness with the signature feeling of the Arabic world. The album opens with an atmospheric piece that lets the listeners immerse themselves into the world of the band – it’s mysterious, seemingly dangerous, yet alluring and inviting.
“Sahra Yaesa,” the second track on the album, already lets you know you’re in for a treat with this album. I rarely like rawness in extreme music, but AL-NAMROOD really knows how to make it work and complement it with absolutely chaotic vocals by Humbaba on top.
It’s fascinating how the addition of Arabic rhythms really makes one want to dance, even if you’re like me and loathe dancing with a passion. “Kail Be Mekialain” combines folky elements and extreme metal into a thoroughly enjoyable and catchy song. I wish I could understand more than two words of Arabic, however, as AL-NAMROOD are known to write lyrics that are very critical of the system under which they live in Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region.
“Al Shareef Al Muhan” is one of the faster songs on the album, an angry and melodic piece driven by some great drumming. The feeling of chaotic rage continues into “Fasique,” a song with some very interesting guitars, as well as some amazing vocal work of pure madness towards the end of the song that makes me think of something between possession and torture.
The album has little to offer in ways of diversity, which is completely fine as it is very consistent in terms of quality throughout. “Alhallaj” has a short ominous build-up, before hitting you with a wall of sound, which then dissolves into almost proggy riffs that are soon joined by vocals, which are somewhat reminiscent of a military man barking orders. This 36-minute release finishes off with “Alqaum,” a song that starts off with what sounds like an alarm and some BLACK SABBATH-like guitars.
The album in general definitely shows some straying from black metal and many influences from other subgenres of metal such as doom and prog. It’s a brilliant release from a band that has no access to a working studio and has to record everything in their homes, while under constant threat of being found out, something that would likely result in their death. The situation is dire for AL-NAMROOD, yet they do what any artist feels compelled to – create in spite of all difficulties. And they do so very well.
Written by Didrik Mešiček
- Al Hirah
- Sahra Yaesa
- Kail Be Mekialain
- Al Shareef Al Muhan
- Aar Al Estibad
- Wahum Althaat
Mephisto – guitars, bass, percussion
Ostron – keyboards, percussion
Humbaba – vocals