Darkestrah - AlNamrood - Akyr Zaman / Tajer Al Punquia - (7.5/10)

Published on August 17, 2016

Tracklist:

  1. Darkestrah - Akyr Zaman
  2. AlNamrood - Tajer Al Punquia I
  3. AlNamrood - Tajer Al Punquia II

Genre:

Black / Folk

Label:

Shaytan Productions

Playing Time:

21:52

Country:

Saudi Arabia

Year:

2016

Website:

Visit page

The Canadian-based label Shaytan Productions has a knack for uncovering bands residing somewhere in the Middle-Eastern black metal niche. Whether it be the industrialized black metal with Egyptian themes from The Horn or one of the few Bahraini metal bands to have existed, Dhul-Qarnayn, the label seems to constantly dig through a vastly unexplored scene. This split brings the longtime Shaytan-backed project AlNamrood together with Darkestrah.

 

Shaytan Productions

 

Darkestrah formed in 1999 in Kyrgyzstan, releasing a couple of albums before relocating to Germany. The band’s breakthrough, if you could call it that, came sometime after the release of their lauded 2008 album, The Great Silk Road, which saw the band get picked up by the French heavyweight label, Osmose Productions, where they’ve stayed ever since. Their contribution to the split is the grandiose and sprawling “Akyr Zaman”. Clocking in around twelve and a half minutes, it should sound familiar to longtime followers of the band, as it was originally released on Embrace of Memory in 2005. Darkestrah re-recorded the track for this split, and despite how much I like the original, this reworking, featuring their most recent incarnation, shows a much more powerful and mature band. The sweeping trem riffs sound sharper, the drums are more full bodied, and the vocals are harsher and more poignant. The song moves from a folk soiree into epic, charging pagan black metal. Somber strings provide an elegant backdrop, as the music builds into blasting bursts and frenetic trem riffs and mid-tempo sweeping movements. Despite its length, the song plays through seamlessly and with nary a wasted second.

 

 

AlNamrood is one the few Saudi Arabian metal bands able to break free from the grasp of ultra conservative Islamic rule while still living within the country’s borders. Most Saudi Arabian, and Middle-Eastern based for the most part, manage to eek out a short EP or demo before fading into obscurity, but AlNamrood has persevered for eight years. Eight years may not sound like a lot, but consider the recent jailing of metal musicians in Iran for releasing a metal album (…even if it wasn’t very good). Over those eight years, AlNamrood has crammed five full lengths, two EP’s, and a handful of singles. Their two tracks are parts one and two of “Tajer Al Punquia”, with each part somewhere in the four to five minute range. The band’s sound is a cluster of raw trem guitars, played with noticable Middle-Eastern melodies throughout, and blustery, unrefined percussion. Some ethnic instrumentation takes the raw edge away in some places, like the beginning of part II, but it’s still a roughshod approach. The vocals have a pretty neat, ethic sound to the gruff shouted style, but, like the guitars it’s way to raw and under-produced for its own good. The raw guitars offer some interesting riffs, but the slower, plodding parts coming across as a jumbled mess of grating chord with stagnant percussion. The band sounds much more confident with their faster, more blackened approach, but they seem hard-pressed to leave the meandering, middle-on-the-road approach behind.

 

 

While Middle-Eastern black metal is a fairly un(der)explored scene, Shaytan Productions has been doing a good amount of the legwork. Darkestrah has been gaining popularity, and their pristine reworking of a classic track is a great example why. AlNamrood has battled constant adversity, with a life and death need to remain in the shadows. Unfortunately their music has suffered from the need to stay hidden, as it’s raw and under-produced. Despite this, their two tracks are still solid offerings, showing a stirring potential lurking under the din. Overall, this is a pretty good starting point for those looking to sift through Middle-Eastern sands.

Shawn Miller

Author: Shawn Miller

Scraping the bottom of the barrel since 1983, Shawn Miller is a heavy metal enthusiast living in the not-so-far reaches of Central PA. He is The Metal Observer's resident purveyor of the blackened, the foul and the filthy.

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