Cyaxares - Whores of Babylon - (8/10)
Published on February 10, 2015
Genre:Death / Folk
When thinking of metal and Iraq, most metalheads, if at all, will think of the brilliant documentary “Heavy Metal in Baghdad” and the featured band Acrassicauda (which since has found refuge in the United States). But beyond that, the country between Euphrates and Tigris still is a book with seven seals as far as metal is concerned.
Hailing from Kurdish Sulaymaniyah, Mir Shamal Hama-faraj has conjured up his vision of folk influenced death metal in the shape of Cyaxares, named after the third king of Media, offering his debut album Whores of Babylon, which is definitely one of the big surprises of the year 2014. The foundation for the album is tight and heavy death metal, but instead of just blasting through the rugged lands of northeastern Iraq, Cyaxares bring in different rhythms and tempos, cleverly shaking things up and keeping things interesting.
On top of that the listener is also treated to some Arabic influences, but they never become gimmicky, they rather are incorporated via an Arabic scale or melody and only the bonus track “Temples of Waters” is all out Arabic with folk instruments and all. Other than that Hama-faraj is swinging the hammer, his deep growls complementing the immense power generated by the music, while the variety in rhythm and the Arabic influences further deepen the experience and push the boundaries.
“Temples of Fire” brings all of the influences together in the probably most cohesive way, uniting Arabic percussion with high speed death metal, creating great dynamics and flow, clearly benefitting from the very clear production. The title track is a prime example for the power that the double-bass can bring to death metal, while “The Anunnaki” is only three minutes long, but covers the whole spectrum from slow to blastbeats without sounding disjointed, instead the Arabic scales bring a sense of cohesion.
Surely the concept of bringing death metal and arabic (or egyptian) folk together is nothing new, several bands have done it before, yet for a one-man project out of war-stricken Iraq, Cyaxares’ firstborn has turned out to be a very enjoyable and high quality album, which should bring Whores of Babylon quite a few well deserved followers. Tight, heavy, authentic, good!