Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Label: Shaytan Productions

Date: June 9th, 2024

AlNamrood is all grown up. Has been so for a while now. Long past are the days when they were a novelty item, coming from a country where no metal, let alone black metal, should be performed. In other words, if you’re after this band simply because they originate from Saudi Arabia, think again. Exotic origin or the “forbidden fruit” nature of their existence as a musical act have fallen to the background of their exquisitely inspired creation. As proven on their most mature and, if you ask me, best developed, crafted and executed work to date.

“Al Aqrab” is another step away from the black metal foundations of AlNamrood. Truth be told, ever since they began to musically disassociate themselves from the genre, they’ve stumbled upon a much more potent playing field. At this point, I would much rather label them as a dark folk metal band. Even at that, the folklore influenced partitures have a much more profound impact on the whole of the tracks presented on the album. Plus, they’ve been fused together with traditional metal pieces in a manner that is definitely a better fit, so that the last traces of “forcing” them together are gone. All credits to the drumming arrangements which hit the nail right on its head, composing a firm grip on both dark, atmospheric metal and traditional Arab folklore. Of course, guitar work is still the leading force, swerving to and fro the two aforementioned key ingredients of AlNamrood. Vocal is the one figure on “Al Aqrab” that keeps the ties to black metal alive. Primal scream that, in keeping with compositional magnitude of this work of art, retains a remarkable level of performance which summons forth the comparisons with Mr. Averill of Primordial. Though, of course, a harsher rendition of the famed frontman, when it comes to the color of the voice.

Speaking of those who can be associated with AlNamrood, anno domini 2024, the best comparison can be drawn to Rotting Christ. Natural distinction between the two would be the country where they draw their traditional folklore surge. But in the way that they create the combination between the genres and the darkened aura that oozes from their craft, it’s as if they’re two fruits of the same orchard. Just so there’s no confusion, I’m talking about the new age of Rotting Christ, “Theogonia” and onwards. The other aspect of differentiation between the two entities would be in the focal point of their songs’ “fabric of existence”. The Greeks tend to be more oriented towards the initial riffage, while in the case of AlNamrood it’s all about the menacing harmony which warns you of the imminent danger of stepping into an Arabian desert. Catchiness is achieved mainly through those seamless combinations of metal and folklore, while his majesty “the riff” is left as more of a stepping stone towards achieving that goal.

The ultimate example of how uniquely refined AlNamrood’s music on this album actually is can be found in the closing track of “Al Aqrab”. “Tarjif” consists of fairly separated segments of downright thrash metal and folklore. Such a setting proves how majestic are the previous pieces of this record, since it all goes pretty bland and just blindly aggressive without the two complementing each other. It’s not that the song itself is without its appeal, but it falls way short of the remainder of “Al Aqrab”.

However, this one tiny step out of the ordinary is in no way a fault on the album. It remains an excellent example of Arabic folk metal. Household names such as Melechesh or Darkestrah not only have a “competitor”, but I’m tempted to say AlNamrood, especially with “Al Aqrab” has surpassed them with a superior step forward.


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