Long have I had a weakness for Middle Eastern/Arabic metal. There’s something special that comes from fusing together folky melodies from the region – all the way from western Africa to where the mighty Persian Empire once stood – with heavy music, especially the death metal that I love. ANOUSHBARD is a fresh Iranian progressive death metal band, formed recently in 2017, and they began the new year in 2020 by releasing their debut album, entitled “Mithra”.
The album starts off with a folky drumming tune, which turns into proggy death metal in “Inevitable Death”. The harsh vocals verge on black metal (slightly reminiscent of the Saudi Arabian AL-NAMROOD) in that they remain fairly non-melodic and raw-sounding. Meanwhile, the guitars are where the band really shines as they drive the song forward with a fast, melodic tempo, revealing influences from modern melodeath as well as classic progressive death metal bands such as OPETH.
Clean vocals are utilised much more on the second track, “The Man Who Rides Through the Fire“, a calmer song that gives a feeling of introspection. The standout song on the album, however, has to be “Gates of Ctesiphon”, a ten-minute behemoth wherein the band showcases all of their skill, spearheaded by proggy guitar passages, which then progress into a softer, dreamier part. ANOUSHBARD‘s theme is often reminiscent of AETERNAM‘s “Ruins of Empires” as the band sings of Persian culture and history long since gone. The song features an acoustic part as well and then finishes with what sounds like a ritual while a fire crackles.
The album draws to an end with “The Ward“, a fairly morbid-themed but surprisingly catchy song with beautiful riffs that at times sound quite a bit like older prog-rock bands. Finally, to finish off the journey, the Iranian duo end the release with an interesting instrumental piece full of folky melodies, “Haoma”, and thus concludes this six-piece debut that’s full of promise.
I always welcome new bands appearing in typically less metal-friendly areas of the world and this is definitely an album that has made me quite excited for the future of Iranian progressive death metal and metal in the region in general. It is a very solid debut album and it’ll be interesting to see the band evolve into the next stages of their creative journey. Finally, as the second part of this review and introduction, we have a short interview with the vocalist and guitarist of ANOUSHBARD, Sherwin Baradaran. Read the interview here.
- Inevitable Death
- The Man Who Rides Through the Fire
- Life Lady (Green Temple)
- Gates of Ctesiphon
- The Ward
Sherwin Baradaran – vocals, guitars
Siavash Motallebi – guitars
Interview with Vola — “At this point, we just felt like writing something heavy again, more streamlined.”