Middle Eastern influences seem to be the latest big thing in Metal, there are more and more bands that try to incorporate elements such as these in an attempt to stand out and while some definitely succeed (take NILE and ORPHANED LAND as well known bands and SEQUENCE and AMASEFFER as a lesser known ones) as examples for this. And now also in Black Metal from Saudi-Arabia, that’s a new one! So far we’ve only had Grindcore specialists CREATIVE WASTE on our pages, so how do AL-NAMROOD fare? The trio of Mukadars, Ostron and Mephisto apparently has chosen its name from an ancient Babylonian king, who once ruled the world with powerful and despotic evil, and also said "I am the God of all creation". With “Al-Namrood” allegedly meaning “the non-believer”, it fits pretty well that the trio plays Black Metal, but how is the musical quality?
Well, the band (by themselves or the label, either way) is heralded as “a blend of fiendish black metal with archaic Arabian culture” and in the keyboards and percussion the Arabic influence definitely comes through, lending the songs something different and, given where the three gentlemen are from, also authenticity. What I have more of a problem with is the Black Metal section, as its pretty pedestrian approach to the genre more or less counter-balances the exotic fascination the rest builds up, which is not helped by the overall pretty muddy production (the producer either did not really like the (computerized sounding) drums or something didn’t quite work out during the mix) and the vocals of Mukadar, which sound oddly gargly and are the topping of clay on the production of mud. Oddly enough the Arabic elements are the ones that actually stand out the most in terms of sound.
As the EP progresses, the production gets rawer and more into the style of the Black Metal of the early 90s, where rawness was the law, just with some added Middle Eastern flair. So mixing in melodies from different cultural circles into Black Metal is not something new, but the Arabic scales I have not heard before, so AL-NAMROOD are on to something different and try to bring some of their own culture into play and that I definitely have to laud them for. Now they’ll just have to figure out something for the realization, because despite having the will and courage, they will also have to find out how to balance, so things don’t turn into this raw wall of sound and a little more refined vocals would not be a bad idea either. So potential is there, but there still is a lot of work ahead of them!
(Online November 1, 2008)