Al-Namrood – “Wala’at”

Al-Namrood – “Wala’at”
Shaytan Productions
Black Metal from Saudi Arabia

Al-Namrood is a Saudi Arabian black metal band whose name refers to “Nimrod”, a Babylonian king. The name was chosen as a form of defiance against religion. The members are anonymous since their identification could lead to punishment of death from Saudi Arabian authorities. Now Al-Namrood are celebrating 12 years of resistance with their eighth full-length “Wala’at”.  This is what The Guardian wrote about them:

«Isolation, dislocation from the prevailing social and political orthodoxies, introspection, a genuine connection with ancient spiritual/religious beliefs and a belief in the sublime potential of art to represent nature are often hallmarks of great black metal. And this is why Al Namrood from Saudi Arabia are undoubtedly much more in tune with the genuine spirit of Black Metal than some dudes called Portcullis who wear corpse-paint and live on a farm in the American Midwest. The press can look patronisingly at BM bands in places like the Middle East as being exotic or even funny, when, in some respects, they should be seen as the true heirs to the Scandinavians of two decades ago. The three piece – who have to keep their exact location and identities strictly secret – are so far removed from normal Saudi society that there simply is no Western equivalent to what they are doing. They have never played live in front of an audience and have to record clandestinely. They even have to smuggle their instruments out to the US for repair via a clandestine drop off spot in Bahrain when they break. If they are ever discovered they risk execution by stoning or beheading for apostasy: something that is all too imaginable given their sceptical stance on modern religion. Despite all this though, Al Namrood – who are named after the Qur’an equivalent to the Old Testament rebel king and unbeliever, Nimrod, builder of the Tower Of Babel – inject a palpable amount of verve and swagger into what they do. The excitement the music creates is in part caused by a conflict in the instrumentation; not just because of the tonal clash between electric guitars and Eastern instruments such as oud, ney, qanun and darbuka but because the latter have traditional Middle Eastern tunings and the former are tuned to a standard (Western) scale. The microtonal intervals the maqam calls for are achieved by note bending, meaning the threat of dissonance is always present despite never quite arriving. Also Al Namrood are clearly good musicians but everything they record is self-produced under stressful conditions in unsuitable home surroundings on substandard equipment. This means their albums have the musicianship of early Melechesh but are recorded with the lo-fi, everything in the red, distortion of an album like Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger. All of these things combine to create a truly unique sound that really couldn’t come from any other region in the world.»