Al-Namrood - Estorat Taghoot
Shaytan Productions
Black Metal
11 songs (56:08)
Release year: 2010
Shaytan Productions
Reviewed by Charles
This is the third Al-Namrood release to be reviewed at this site, and Zadok’s review of their debut album is, as ever, an accurate one. Astfhl Al Tha’r was, as he describes, the product of a band with a distinctive sound struggling to produce a developed set of songs. He ends by promising us confidently that there is better to come from the band.

Well, this was prescient because Estorat Taghoot is much better. Really, truly, far, far better. As Zad pointed out, the debut sounded like a demo recording, and that remark now has extra resonance because the sound here is so superior. Not even especially different- just much better. We still have the same approach; savagely rudimentary black metal soaked in, almost drowned by wiry lead lines and riotous synths screeching out vivid harmonic minor melodies (no doubt there is a technical term for the tonalities they use but being a Westerner this is the best I can think of), all given extra Eastern ambiance by pattering hand percussion. The difference is that here it actually works.

The first thing you notice is that the black metal guitars are much louder and more powerful. The second thing you notice is that the drummer has been practicing, and is now capable of producing real black metal blasting. The upshot is that whilst the other elements have hardly been toned down, they are now an essential current of a blazing maelstrom rather than a novelty sitting atop an underpowered hobby horse. As proper opener Junood Al Amjaad kicks in, the fury of the sound does really hit you- an unusual approach, rough around the edges, but with a definite energy alive and kicking. Yes, this is a whole new level for Al-Namrood.

And as if to complement this improved power, they’ve also picked up a lot of speed. Whether that’s because they’ve been listening to more extreme stuff, or simply because they’ve improved as musicians, it really suits what they do. They capture the haywire energy that black metal should have, often sounding like they are pushing themselves to drive faster and more aggressively (see the crackling fury of Laylat Ghabraa), whilst retaining the ability to shift down a gear into more controlled riff and tune-led strutting as on the title track or the grim churn of Endma Tuq’saf Al Ruos.

It is tempting to slightly patronisingly cluck about how well they’re doing to produce this kind of music in Saudi Arabia. The Middle East has slowly started spawning some world-beating metal bands in the diverse forms of Melechesh (although they’ve relocated) and Orphaned Land, as well as lesser known lights like the impressive Jordanian death metallers Ajdath or Iraq’s Acrassicauda in recent times. When you compare them to Melechesh, of those four bands the one closest to them in sound, it becomes clear Al-Namrood still have quite a way to go. The synths still sometimes sound a bit gaudy, and whilst I would hate to see the band ditch them because they so define their sound, I think they can be integrated better. But without wanting to expose a deep ignorance of Middle Eastern politics, Saudi Arabia is a notably stricter Islamic country than places like Jordan or (duh) Israel and for those of us curious outsiders it remains a very welcome surprise that this music is being conceived of there at all (the actual recording was done in Bahrain). The real achievement of this album, though, is quite rightly a musical one- they have managed to lift their sound not just one gear, but many. Another step this big on their next one and the Melechesh comparisons will suddenly not seem so one-sided. Now this is a band worth following.

Killing Songs :
Laylat Ghabraa, Junood Al Amjaad, Endma Tuq’saf Al Ruos
Charles quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Al-Namrood that we have reviewed:
Al-Namrood - Astfhl Al Tha’r reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
Al-Namrood - Atba’a Al-Namrood reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
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