Quick Review: AL-NAMROOD Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq
The theocracy in Saudi Arabia recently gave its penal code a revamping, ostensibly to bring the kingdom’s policies in line with those of Western nations regarding the proper identification and handling of terrorist suspects. Being an atheist, throwing away one’s loyalty to the state, and seeking to “shake the social fabric or national cohesion” are all exemplary ways to be recognized as a threat to the security of the Saudi state. Fortunately, there’s one metal band in Saudi Arabia who seeks to shake the social fabric: Al-Namrood.
Al-Namrood are pure Arabian folk metal the way Panopticon is pure American folk metal. The sound is distinctly Arabian, complete with native instruments, bombastic Arabic vocals, and oriental scales, structured in a manner that departs from what could be considered “traditional” metal. (I wrote about the band in greater depth here.)
Until recently, Al-Namrood’s sound has mixed black metal with an Arabian folk aesthetic. But on Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq the band has evolved away from the blackened sound toward something distinctly their own. The songs here are memorable for their wild displays of musicianship, the blending of east and west into something you can headbang to while your girlfriend belly dances (or vice-versa, if that’s your thing). “Bat Al Tha Ar Nar Muheja” and “Um Al Qashaam” stand out as particularly catchy songs.
Al-Namrood do the best work they can given their limited circumstances. As yet lacking a proper drummer, the band continues to work magic with programmed drum tracks. The addition of a new vocalist, Humbaba, is the most marked change from previous recordings. Gone are the scratchy blackened vocals, replaced by what to my American ear sounds like a horribly demented reinterpretation of Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash” vocals with Arabic lyrics. Think unique, in a way similar to how no one sings like Dagon from Inquisition unique.
Those of you who enjoy the established folk sound in the European scene, or the likes of Chthonic or Shangren, might enjoy Al-Namrood. Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq is the band’s fifth album since 2008, and they show no sign of stopping.
Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq is available now from Shaytan Productions.