Ajdath - Triangle Of Death
Jordan River Entertainment Records
Arabian Death Metal
6 songs (20:32)
Release year: 2006
Ajdath, Jordan River Ent
Reviewed by Ross
Album of the month
When I put Ajdath’s Triangle Of Death on my player I was expecting to hear a Jordanian band play some Death Metal. Two chords and some ‘Weapon’s Grade’ blastbeats into the first track and I knew I was hearing something more. The further I went into the album the more I got sucked in by some unknown force that was interweaved throughout some brutal Death Metal. As the outro riffs of the last track, The Perfect Race, faded out I tried to gather my thoughts which had bomb-burst in a bajillion directions. First though, I had to hear it again….and again…..and again… In fact, for almost a week, I’ve been listening to very little else; and when I’ve not been listening to it it’s been going through my head. It’s ringing in my ears when I go to sleep and it’s there to wake me up in the morning, swirling through my morning fog before I even open my eyes. For me, I know my discomfiture is due to some deja-vue flashbacks of time I spent in the Middle East in a former life. Hopefully I am able to explain to you all why Triangle Of Death has got my pants in such a bunch so that when you hear it for yourselves it will have a similar effect.

On certain occasions whilst I was in the Middle East I had the pleasure, nay privilege, of being looked after by Bedouins; living and travelling with them the same way they have been doing for thousands of years. On some treks, particularly long boring ones, after we had stopped for the night and made camp, a Bedouin would start singing to himself which would start a chain reaction; someone would produce a reed pipe and start playing along, strange stringed instruments that I’d never seen before, or since, would join in then some small, bongo like, drums would appear, and hookah bubble pipes would be produced. Between songs, stories would be told and if there wasn’t an Arabic translator with us we didn’t have a clue what they were on about. However, because of the times we did have a translator with us, we knew the stories were about things that had happened to them and their ancestors, and with each storyteller trying to out-do the other. The songs were more of the same; stories set to music they had learned from their fathers and grandfathers who had learned them from their fathers and grandfathers, and so on… So, you get the picture, basically, I was experiencing a time warp, here I was with people who were doing the exact same thing, in probably the exact same place, that their ancestors had done for thousands of years. Yet I have no doubt that over the millennia, the stories and songs had been changed, embellished and re-worked as they had been handed down the generations. Right, keep that thought in mind when you listen to Triangle Of Death and what you have here is music that’s just had its biggest re-work in thousands of years and what you are listening to on Triangle Of Death is the result - Arabian Death Metal, with more emphasis on Arabian than Death Metal. Don’t get me wrong, Triangle Of Death is as brutal a chunk of Death Metal that is going to assault your senses as any Western Death Metal band can create but when you listen to Triangle Of Death, or any other Arabian Metal for that matter, bear in mind the thousand of years it has been in the making, put yourself in the scene I have just described and just equate what you are listening to to that timeless moment out in the middle of nowhere!

Triangle Of Death, and in fact Ajdath, is the creation of Omar Al Kilani, a Jordanian now living in Poland. Although Jordan is a more ‘Tolerant’ country than some in the Middle East, playing Death Metal, or any kind of Metal, is not something that you can really play openly without there being some sort of religious or social repercussions. I have no doubt what-so-ever that in some cases playing Metal music would land the perpetrator some serious jail time and having spent an afternoon in a police cell in El Arish, a Mediterranean coastal town in Sinai, Egypt, that is not prospect I would particularly relish. Metal really is an underground art in the Middle East, hence Omar’s re-location to Poland, taking with him his interpretation of thousands of years old music.

To say that Triangle Of Death ‘Starts Off’ with the title track is a bit of an understatement; spewing forth from your speakers with the force of a hundred fiery Jinn could be a more accurate description. Omar and fellow six stringer Daniel let loose a thundering, chugging riff accompanied by machine gun snare blastbeats from Bartek, a bridge into the first verse gives you your first taste of the Arabian influence of the album and then the low, growling vocals storm in a dark and menacing wave like they have been drop-kicked into your face. An instrumental interlude in the middle of the song builds up to gradually with chugging power chords and more snare blastbeats, before exploding in a lightning fast guitar solo of thoroughbred Arabic heritage. Wrath Of Babel has a fast, Arabian riffed intro that continues through the verses up to the outro with the occasional squealing solo to fire off some adrenalin in you. Intifada, though sung in Arabic and relating to Palestinian uprising, is perhaps the most traditional ‘Old School’ track on the album; lightning fast with technical Death Metal riffs throughout the track. No War No Peace intro’s with a bass guitar riff, the guitars and drums add their might with a cool guitar harmonies between Omar and Daniel. Another track leaning more towards a traditional Death Metal style until the outro; an awesome Arabian riff that deposits a trail of sand as it leaves your speakers, and a mind blowing, ultra-fast piece of guitar wizardry, also in the Arabian style.

The penultimate track, Before The War, is the track that’s gonna leave you all goose-fleshed and tingly. It’s an Arabian instrumental that could very well be thousands of years old in origin but played on modern day instruments. In an exchange of e-mails with Omar he explained that even though the Arabian sound we hear in the music is easily identified as such, it is not 100% Arabic. He explained it thus: “Arabian Death Metal plays mainly Egyptian and Hijaz scales. (Hijaz is the true name of what is now Saudi Arabia.) Ajdath don’t play 100% Arabic scales because Western ears wouldn’t understand it because of tempo and divided tones. Arabic has 1/4 tone while Western Hearing has 1/5 tone. That is why Arabic stringed instruments are usually fretless, so you can reach these notes. I can get some of the notes by bending the strings, but it is not the same.” It may not be the same for Omar but it certainly works for me; Before The War certainly gets me reaching for the repeat button.

The final track The Perfect Race is definitely thousands of years old, well lyrically it is. I am familiar with this story but as I heard it a long time ago it is a bit blurred. It’s about Jinns (Genies), which are made from fire, and the highest of the Jinns Iblis (The Devil), who come to earth to destroy a ‘Perfect Race’ that had turned bad. There’s something to do with islands on the way to heaven, or hell, in the story as well I think. Anyway, Iblis and his Jinns destroyed the bad ‘Perfect Race’, but, when he returned to heaven there was another ‘Perfect Race’ there which he was none too happy about. Something like that anyway. I would like to point out that ‘The Perfect Race’ to which this track refers has absolutely nothing to do with what an Arian nation, led by a Mr Hitler circa 1930 – 45, was trying to create! The Perfect Race is a perfect finisher for this album, it’s like everything that has gone before has lead up to this track. The intro riffs are blasts of ancient Arabia that continue through the verses to the instrumental chorus that builds up to a spine shattering crescendo that hurls you through the third verse to an adrenalin pumping Arabian outro with a screaming lead hammer-on/pull-off solo overlaid that sets the hairs on the back of your neck on edge. When it’s all over and you’ve wiped up the drool, cos you’ve been sitting all slack-jawed, you just have to reach out and hit that replay button. Even if you don’t quite ‘Get’ this album, I will really be surprised if the last two track don’t have any effect on you what-so-ever.

If the mention of Arabian Death Metal has Nile popping in to your head, then pop it back out again. Nile is an American Death Metal band playing ‘Old School’ type Death Metal influenced lyrically by Egyptian mythology. They do not play Arabian, Egyptian or any other Middle Eastern style Death metal. If you want an idea of the style of Arabian Metal, think Imhotep from Iced Earth’s Horror Show album and you’ll be getting closer. Ajdath, which incidentally means ‘Graves of the Resurrected Dead’, has brought a whole new genre of Metal to the table. If they are the beginnings of a whole new raft of bands from that region bringing Arabian influenced and styled music, then I for one will be waiting for them with open ears. It may be that my past relationship with the Middle East has made me especially receptive to this style of music; the same way me being Scottish has given me an affinity with Celtic/Folk Metal. However, Viking and Pagan Metal are among my favourite genres, yet I am neither of Viking descent or a Pagan so that shoots that theory down. I just think this style of music is ass kickingly spectacular and has entered my list of favourite genres of Metal slightly above Melodic Death. I would really like to give this album a quote of 100, but that would be the fanboy in me taking over, so I will be sensible and give it a realistic quote.

To get hold of Triangle Of Death, check out the list of distributors on the Ajdath Website, on ebay or drop the band an e-mail, I’m sure they will sort you out.
Killing Songs :
All of them but Before The War and The Perfect Race in particular
Ross quoted 95 / 100
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