As a small introduction, I would like to talk a little bit about Heavy Metal in general, concerning the differences of the music dependant on different regions. While everybody knows that depending on where the music was written and recorded, the sound is always unique. The point of interest here are those bands that really create something unique and not copycats or unoriginal artists, of course. Take for example Scandinavia, Europe, the USA for interest and even further examined the single countries, say Norway or Sweden. You will always notice a good difference, even in the same niche or genre. While we've had constant development in sound and technique in the Western world since, and this is very arguable, but let's lay it on the table, say the 60s (remember we're talking about Rock/Metal in general here so I'll lay the roots to modern day Metal in the 60s) there still are many parts of the world where this type of culture does not have room to develop, for many different reasons, be it state, religion, society or simply the lack of means to do such a thing. When I think about the Middle East and music I think about Kanuns or those oriental looking small string instruments with chants or prayer to accompany it. It may be stereotypical, but since I have no experience whatsoever in those parts of the world (yet), that's the typical portrait for me. So when I first heard real metal music from the Orient, it was only a handful of bands such as MELECHESH, SALEM or ORPHANED LAND. When you compare that to the number of "major" or "cult" bands in the West, well you get the idea.
Now with a seemingly small number of artists who dare to make this sort of stuff, especially the extreme part of metal, one would normally be inclined to think that lacking a real established scene, the music won't go very far. Well ever since I've listened to Jordan's BOUQ (Arab. for war horn) I've realized that even some obscure project can sometimes really blow your mind in terms of originality, sound, and execution. While my knowledge on the topics dealt with here on 2010's "Berserk" is rather dim, that does not affect my fondness for this CD. Multi-instrumentalist Muhannad Bursheh really manages to create an album that is simply stunning and that no one would of thought to be really that good. Judging by the booklet of the CD, this guy plays guitars, flutes, timpani, drums and all sorts of percussion, keyboard and does a lot of sound effects and whatever else you can hear on this CD. That by itself being quite impressive, he also has talent in arranging songs that will capture your attention and keep you interested. It doesn't matter if you're the best musician out there technically, if you don't have that certain je ne sais quoi that makes your music cool. But this is not the case here. The album sounds great, the mixing is good, none of the instruments seem to be in foreground, the vocals are nice and aggressive, the songs are not filled with all sorts of lame gimmicks, instead it's like an Extreme Metal symphony from the Middle East.
"Berserk" sounds like a lot of stuff that one has heard before, but not in a lame copycat sense; you have your occasional MORBID ANGEL or BEHEMOTH here or there, you have Black Metal influence and even chants and that sort of stuff, but surprisingly enough it still sounds like something new, like something is happening over there which is good. Since music always represents oneself, what can this tell us? Only that there are other musicians on the other side of the world that are giving their contribution to the music. The grunting and heavy songs on this album are all that one would imagine from a good Metal record, amazing dark and gloomy atmosphere with a great production and epic tunes. Simply majestic and recommended for every fan of Death/Doom/Black or any type of heavy music in general.
(Online March 17, 2011)