Archive for March, 2010

Blessed Are The Sick

Posted in Cynic, death metal, Meshuggah, progressive metal, technical metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

The goal of Pantheon Magazine is to provide you, the music-listening hordes, with literary nourishment. With this goal in mind this article will discuss two bands who exemplify all things prog and metal…

-Cameron Davis

Meshuggah – “Chaosphere”

Highlights:

“The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled”

“New Millennium Cyanide Christ”

“Sane”

The Prog:

The bass-heavy, polyrhythmic grooves presented in the album are reminiscent of funk and the guitar solos come straight from jazz.

The Metal:

The album is a testament to the delicate art of “head banging.”

A Mandatory Listen? NO

Chaosphere is an amazing album, but it is by no means a perfect one. Though the rhythms are mind blowing and the vocals are beyond perfection, some songs fall short. The final track “Elastic” includes an eight minute period of pure static which, in my opinion, deters from the general aesthetic of the opus.

Cynic – “Focus”

Highlights:

“Veil of Maya”

“Celestial Voyage”

“I’m But A Wave To…”

The Prog:

An amazing integration of jazz and extreme metal. Also, the vocoder used on the album was light years ahead of its time.

The Metal:

Cynic stands as god in the technical death metal community. Their Focus album is as necessary as Necrophagist’s Epitaph.

A Mandatory Listen? YES

Focus is the perfect album! There is no weak moment in this cosmos-altering masterpiece. I am not kidding, this album is quite possibly one of the finest moments in extreme metal history. Listen to it, own it, and let it reshape your musical reality.

Prog Promulgation #2

Posted in avant-garde, iceberg, prog promulgation, progressive rock, van der graaf generator with tags , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Note: Prog is often called ‘pretentious.’ Thus, so are our personas. Although on the surface this may seem overtly insulting towards most musical genres, we only wish to immerse the reader in the pretentious lifestyle of prog. The music is still fantastic and necessary, and the pretention is (usually) meant with good humor.

Brother Bartholomew is currently fencing in the Tuscan fields, fighting for the good of prog overseas.  Unfortunately, this means that he is not here to preach to the prog-thirsty masses of Pantheon.  Never fear, aficionados of good music!  The Red Barron is more than qualified to introduce you to a few wondrous prog gems.

Van der Graaf Generator, while critically acclaimed, is often ignored when compared to Genesis, Yes, and other symphonic bands.  Eschewing traditional instruments such as guitar in favor of saxophone and keys, the eclectic prog band manages to create a dark and occasionally menacing atmosphere.  Lead by virtuoso Peter Hammill, Van der Graaf Generator released a series of brilliant and genre-bending albums throughout the 1970s.  While all are necessary if you are to call yourself a true prog fan, the 1975 release Godbluff is a masterpiece that commands your full attention.

The album begins with “The Undercover Man,” a song which slowly builds to a brilliant chorus.  As you will soon find, Hammill’s vocals sound quite odd at first, but, given time, they prove to be awe-inspiring to the true music lover.  After moving through the scorching “Scorched Earth,” the listener is struck by “Arrow,” surely a highlight of the album.  With lyrics more macabre than most of the metal in this magazine (How long the night is, Why is this passage so narrow? /How strange my body feels, impaled upon the arrow!) and eerie howls by Hammill, this would be the centerpiece of the album if it was not for “The Sleepwalkers.”  Be warned; this track may be too much for lowly prog initiates, especially after the aforementioned three songs.  Go ahead, listen to the album, but Brother B and the Red Barron are not liable for the shock and awe that comes from witnessing such a brilliant piece of music.

While you have undoubtedly not heard of Iceberg (I have already assumed that you live under a rock), you most certainly should have.  The seminal fusion band released Sentiments in 1977.  Iceberg goes above and beyond the usual trappings of the genre to create a pastoral and whimsical atmosphere while retaining a technicality that simply annihilates other fusion bands.  While “Joguines” must be mentioned due to the fantastic, flamenco-influenced guitar work, the true centerpiece of the album is “Alegries Del Mediterrani.”  Featuring meandering keyboards and sublime solos, the song truly encapsulates the feel of the Mediterranean coast.  I am sure that as you read this, Brother B is listening intently to this album as he gallops across the Tuscan plains on his valiant steed.  Compared to Van der Graaf Generator, Iceberg is indeed much more upbeat and, dare I say, happier, but this in no way makes it less worthy of your attention.  Prog legions, I command you to go out, improve your music tastes, and listen to these two magnificent recordings.  Surely, you will be better for it, and may even one day ascend to become a true progressive luminary, like Brother B and the Red Barron.  -Adam (the Red Barron)

Thronar – “Unleash the Fire” review

Posted in album review, black metal, folk metal, metal reviews, thronar with tags , , , , , , , on March 27, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

I heard about Thronar a few years ago while looking through the Metal Archives. They were being recommended for their epic nature or something of the like. Luckily for me, Unleash the Fire was due to be released the same month that I found out about them. I went into this album with relatively high expectations based off of the reviews for their debut and these guys did not fail to deliver; this album is amazing.

The album starts off with the song “Prelude to War”, the perfect opener for an album of this style. There is a narration over horns and soft keyboards. Eventually it builds up into the second track, “Shield to Shield”, which is filled with furious blast beats and a great mixture of harsh and clean vocals. After Shield to Shield the album has one great song after another, going all the way to the closer, “Final War (Unleash the Fire)”.

I don’t want to waste your time describing each track because you need to hear this album for yourself. Each song has great qualities to it and has excellent musicianship from all of the members of the band. Each instrument seems to complement each other very well. When the guitars are shredding and the song takes a heavier approach, the drums become furious and much more apparent to the listener. During the slower parts, the keyboards are present and add a nice melody to each of the songs.

The vocals are quite good on this album as well. The harsh vocals are great and the clean vocals are a nice addition as well. When I say clean vocals, I’m not referring to something that you would hear off of a power metal album; they still have a rougher edge to them. The lyrics of the album itself concern battle, fantasy, and history, which is something that certainly does not detract from the value of Unleash the Fire.

Overall I must say that this is quite an amazing album. Since I have unfortunately not heard Thronar’s debut, I cannot say whether or not this album sounds or is structured like the debut. However, I can say that you will not be disappointed if you pick up this album. It’s a great recording from start to finish and is well worth many listens. -Sean Barron

Amesoeurs – “Amesoeurs” review

Posted in album review, amesoeurs, black metal, French black metal, metal reviews, shoegaze with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Imagine The Cure with blast beats and female vocals.

If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, you should probably stay away from Amesoeurs’ self-titled album. For everyone who is a fan of Neige’s ‘shoegaze black metal’ experiments, though, Amesoeurs is mandatory.

First, the bad: the main problem with this album is that it is not, in any sense, cohesive. ‘Trouble’, a blistering black metal track featuring Neige’s trademark screams, is followed by ‘Video Girl’, which is essentially a pop song. Both songs are incredible, but it’s very disjointing to leap from one style to the next, especially when this occurs several times over the course of the album. Also disappointing is that Audrey and Neige’s vocals are never used jointly. Each track is either predominantly a ‘Neige track’ or an ‘Audrey track,’ and it would be incredible to hear them together.

Don’t let these complaints fool you; Amesoeurs is fantastic. Once you get past the erratic nature of the album, you will find that each track is uplifting and gorgeously crafted. ‘Gas in Veins’, the instrumental opener, shows that Amesoeurs is more than just the vocals, and does post-black metal better than most other bands in the genre. ‘Heurt’ opens with furious blasting before segueing into sublime female vocals. The peak of the track comes when Audrey wildly shrieks over a brilliant lead. While ‘Les Ruches Malades’ and ‘La Reine Treyeuse’ are strong contenders, the true climax of the album comes with the finale, ‘Au Crepuscule de Nos Reves.’ The song truly amalgamates the black metal and shoegaze stylings. The album ends on a melancholy note, as Neige howls through a passage that easily ranks as one of Amesoeurs’ finest.

Amesoeurs broke up after the completion of this album, so unfortunately Neige will have to pursue his experiments in one of his other acclaimed bands. If you like your black metal with an experimental twist, or your shoegaze on a heavier note, then this album is a necessary listening experience. – Adam Barron

Two Mini-Reviews – Ihsahn “After” and Fear Factory “Mechanize”

Posted in album review, avant-garde, black metal, Fear Factory, Ihsahn, Industrial Metal, metal reviews, progressive black metal, progressive metal with tags , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Ihsahn – After

Ihsahn, Emperor (R.I.P.) frontman and guitarist extraordinary, completes his magnificent solo album trilogy with his finest opus, After. His previous solo efforts, The Adversary and angL, feel relatively standard. After, with a little help from an eight-string guitar and saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby, feels like a tour de force in comparison. The black metal torrent that is “A Grave Inversed” not only shows Ihsahn’s ability to bend eight-string guitars to his will, but also showcases the fantastic free-form jazz saxophone present through out the album. In “Austere,”  Ihsahn presents some truly refreshing Deep Purple-sounding organ synth that is so deserving of his name. Finally, the vocal chorus in “Heavens Black Sea” brings to mind stoic, tormented angel chanting that literally sends a shiver down my spine. If you’re into all things “Kvlt” or “Tr00,” this album is definitely not for you. If you like bands that break the rules and make their own in the process, I highly recommend you add this masterpiece to your collection. – Cameron Davis


Fear Factory – Mechanize

If you are one of the Fear Factory fans who, like me, was left feeling betrayed by the band’s most recent breakup and reformation; get over it.  It becomes obvious before you even finish the first track on this album that everything has worked out for the best.  On this album, Fear Factory manages to recapture the sheer intensity and brutality of their older works without sacrificing the musicality found on the more recent “Transgression” and “Archetype”.  And, while not particularly innovative, “Mechanize” is easily the closest that Fear Factory has ever come to perfecting their unique brand of Industrial Metal.  -Matt Neri

Burzum – ‘Belus’ – Editors’ Review

Posted in album review, Belus, black metal, Burzum, metal reviews, Until the Light Takes Us, Varg Vikernes on March 19, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Three of the editors of Pantheon (Adam Barron, Max Rock, and Ryan Kirsch) sat down to discuss Varg Vikernes’ latest output, ‘Belus.’  The full, streaming audio of the chat can be heard below:

Click here for the full transcript of the review

Between the Buried and Me – “The Great Misdirect” review

Posted in album review, avant-garde, between the buried and me, metal reviews, metalcore, prog reviews, progressive metal, progressive rock with tags , , , , , , , on March 18, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

With their magnum opus, Colors, Between the Buried and Me stretched the already distorted limits of progressive music. This included the insertion of many conflicting musical genres into one continuous album. The Great Misdirect picks up where Colors left off, but takes the sporadic passages and streamlines them into a transcending record. The band’s eclectic style makes the transitions seem very cohesive. The Great Misdirect is a transcendent experience, the majority of the album examining the mind and our own human perception.

Although not extremely technical, “Mirrors” opens the album by creating a preparatory listening experience. The listener is able to relate to their own existence through the calming mood created.  “Obfuscation” relays the overall theme of the album with these lyrics; “As humans we could never be content with knowing all, yet we can’t be content with the fact that our brains will never know.” Throughout the entire album, the band exhibits a knack for creating haunting vibes of mind control (“Disease, Injury, Madness”), questions of existence, and even UFOs (“Fossil Genera- A Feed from Cloud Mountain”).

Musically, the greatest evolution can be heard through Blake Richardson, the drummer. Prior to recording, Blake had been collaborating and working with Dream Theater virtuoso Mike Portnoy. That being said, Blake stays true to the heavy side of BTBAM by pounding out barrages of brutal drumming. Picking up from where he left off in Colors, bassist Dan Briggs plays with an enormous amount of talent and emotion, and should be considered one of the premier young bassists on today’s scene. Tommy Rogers is not the exclusive vocalist on the album. Guitarist Paul Waggoner’s takes the lead on vocals for “Desert of Song,” which is the low point of the album in my opinion. The 18-minute closing epic, “Swim to the Moon,” features Chuck Johnson, light tech and merch coordinator for the band.

Overall, Between the Buried and Me continue to exemplify the progressive label by adapting with each album and constantly reworking their personal goals as musicians. The Great Misdirect is a chilling, magnificent representation of what the band is capable of doing musically and lyrically. Though everyone may not approve of the eclectic shifts present in the latest albums from the band, BTBAM brings something new to the table with each release. One can only hope they continue down the road paved by Colors and The Great Misdirect.Matt Karow

Interview with Shaxul – A Life Force of the French Black Metal Scene

Posted in Annthennath, Arphaxat, black metal, French black metal, Hirilorn, interview, Manzer, metal interview, Shaxul with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Shaxul, a French metal musician, has had a place in the black metal scene for nearly 15 years now.  Starting in the epic band Hirilorn, he then founded Deathspell Omega in 1998.  Musical differences caused Shaxul to leave the band and pursue a different route.  Since then, he has been extremely busy with his record labels and multiple musical projects including Annthennath, Manzer, and Arphaxat.  Kindly, Shaxul agreed to answer some questions about his musical career.  Interview performed by Max.

-How does the song-writing process occur for Annthennath?

N°6 (guitar) writes the riffs and structures. Lyshd sometimes does it as well but it’s mainly N°6. Then the remaining musicians (Welkin on bass, Thyr on drums and myself on vocals) work on their own parts. I am responsible for all lyrics and concepts.

-I see that there are multiple releases planned for 2010.  Are there two full lengths and a split coming?  What can you tell us about these?

We are close to FROSTMOON ECLIPSE musically and they are friends so we wanted to do a split 7″EP with them. I came up with the idea of writing an exclusive song by each band which theme is infanticide as a natural selection. It should be available soon through REGIMENTAL Records (USA). I will release a CD through my own label ARMEE DE LA MORT Records, it will consist of 3 new tracks with a concept about nothingness, and several rare and exclusive songs so yes, it will be a full length when it comes to the duration but our real first album will be released by PICTONIAN Records, a local label run by a friend. The album is called “States Of Liberating Departure” and it features 8 tracks. It has just been mixed and mastered and I can’t tell you how much I am impressed with the result! I think this album will blow everyone away.


-Does Annthennath play live shows?

No, we are a studio band. We live quite far from each other for various reasons, we’re all very busy with other projects, and some members don’t like to play live so all this means we are not a live band. All in all, it is a part of our misanthropic concept. Personally I like playing live but I have another band for that, called MANZER.

-Regarding your now-defunct band Hirilorn, can you clarify the reason behind the break-up?

Sînn and Yohann became really too open-minded for me and Hasjarl. They were listening to many non-Metal shit, they took part in some stupid modern HardCore bands, Sînn sold his Metal collection to buy Electro/Indus shit, etc… We couldn’t stand this situation anymore. We suggested them to become session members only but as we expected it, they denied the offer and the band was dead…

-Do you foresee Hirilorn ever reforming?

It is absolutely impossible. The other 3 members don’t give a shit about HIRILORN, I don’t see them for 8 to 11 years and I simply hate them hehe…  Remember that I left them in bad terms. And I couldn’t reform the band with other members because there was a special unity between us back then, something that couldn’t be done again. Nowadays most bands reforming are very bad and it would be a shame and insult if HIRILORN would be a part of this circus.

-Prophetic Tales of Armageddon was never released until now.  Are all of the planned songs from that album on the new 2xLP?

Yes, they are all on this double LP. It has never been released before because unfortunately the band split up before recording the album. But I managed to find some decent recordings from rehearsals we made in 1999. They were good enough to be released on noble vinyl format. It is the ultimate testament of HIRILORN.

-Manzer is another one of your projects.  It seems to have a really old school feel to it, especially with your vocals.  It’s really reminding me of proto-black metal bands from the 80s.  What type of sound are you going for with Manzer?

I hate the “proto-Black” word, it’s mainly used by newcomers without knowledge about the Metal history, and VENOM are the creators of Black Metal, it is one of our biggest influence. So we are Black Metal, that’s all. Read old SLAYER mags for example and you’ll notice that the words Black Metal were used very often. Our main influences are VENOM, ABIGAIL, SABBAT, KILLERS, ATOMIZER, IMPALED NAZARENE, JAN DO FIAO, BATHORY, NME, BULLDOZER… We also want to show that Black Metal is not only the stupid norsecore style that so many people dig nowadays. We respect the roots of Metal and it is a tribute. We show we can do a traditional style with our own identity.

-Arphaxat is a duo with you on drums and bass and Draken on vocals.  What is the reason behind utilizing a no-guitar approach?

The reason is very simple: we can’t play this fukking instrument hahaha! We wanted to create a project together and we thought that using bass parts with a big distortion instead of the usual six-strings electric guitar would be OK. And it works, at least we’re satisfied with the shit we succeeded to create hehe…

-All of your musical projects (unless I’m missing some), seem to be rooted in the black metal style.  Do you foresee yourself ever playing in a separate sub-genre of metal or another genre of music?

Yes, I could play in other styles of Metal (as long as it’s traditional and not modern shitty sub-genres). It’s just that destiny made that I only played in Black Metal bands… Maybe one day I could play something else but my bands are very different from one to another so it’s really not an issue. I would like to find time to record something with traditional instruments from all over the world, nothing Metal here but it would be very special for me, the problem is that I don’t have the time for that and Metal will remain a priority for sure.

-How has your label Legion of Death Records been going?

It is going well since early 2001! This week I will unleash my 38th production, EXORDIUM MORS 7″EP from New Zealand.

-Is there a reason that you tend to sign bands that are not European?

Of course, it is the concept of my label. In Europe things are very easy when it comes to getting record deals. In some underrated or unknown places, it is very difficult. It’s a bit easier nowadays but back then it was a fukked up situation, really. I wanted to help the valuable bands in these distant countries. Though I always supported valuable European bands as well, by the way I have created a parallel label last year, called ARMEE DE LA MORT Records. It is mainly to support underrated bands from the French regions.

-What do you foresee for the future of black metal or just metal in general?

Metal will never die! People should be more underground to keep real Metal alive and they should have the balls to boycott all trends. But there’s nothing we can do, except supporting the real Metal spirit. I can mainly speak for myself and I will be Metal til death. This is the most important to me, I will never betray my thoughts.

-How would you describe the black metal scene in France right now?

It is getting better. To be honest I hated it during many years. Some years ago I discovered some bands with the correct attitude and tastes. And I want to support them with ARMEE DE LA MORT Records. I have already released 3 Black Metal albums, by FUNERAILLE, CARNYX and ANKRISMAH. Get them if you want to know what real Black Metal from France is all about. Nothing to do with the trendy ones that many non-French people seems to hail.

-What albums have you been listening to as of late?

As I run a label, I receive lots of new records all the time. And they are the ones I listen to. So for example, last week I listened a lot to NECROWRETCH, RESUSCITATION, TUDOR, COMBAT NOISE, INFERNAL CURSE, AFFLICTIS LENTAE, DEIPHAGO, CURSED NIHIL, ZÜÜL, etc… But of course I pick up an older record from time to time!

-What are some of your overall favorite albums?

It is extremely difficult to answer this question as there are so many but I can mention VENOM “Black Metal”, SABBAT “Envenom”, IRON MAIDEN “Powerslave”, SADISTIK EXEKUTION “The Magus”, MANILLA ROAD “Crystal Logic”, SARCOFAGO “INRI”, MASSACRA “Enjoy the violence”, SLAYER “Reign in blood”, etc…

-Any closing remarks or things you’d like to promote?  Thank you so much for the interview!

Not that I want to promote anything but I encourage everyone to check my webshop with tons of true underground Metal stuffs! That’s all, so 666 thanxxx to you for the support!!! My contacts:

LEGION OF DEATH Records / ARMEE DE LA MORT Records

WebSite + WebShop : www.legionofdeathrecords.com

E-mail : shaxul@orange.fr

MSN : shaxul666@hotmail.fr

Snail Mail : LOD Records / BP 21 / 86210 Bonneuil-Matours / France.

Middle Eastern Metal: A Growing Force?

Posted in Al-namrood, Arallu, black metal, death metal, Dubai Desert Rock Festival, Global Metal, Heavy Metal Islam, Melechesh, Mesopotamian Metal, Middle Eastern Metal, Narjahanam, Nervecell, Nuclear Blast, Orphaned Land, Salem, Sandstorm Music Festival, Wacken with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

For most of us, metal is more than just a collection of complex riffs, blast beats, and musical technicalities – it’s an atmosphere and a movement. While the true origin of today’s metal can be debated back and forth, what’s relevant is that it has become an incredibly global movement. Global, however, doesn’t mean homogenous. Every region to where Metal has spread incorporates unique elements of their own culture  and traditions into the music. Personally, one of my fascinations in the realm of Metal has been with its creative development in the far corners of the Earth – perhaps where one would least expect it. The Middle East – spanning the Arabian Peninsula, former Mesopotamia and parts of North Africa and the Mediterranean, is a land of great civilizations, cultural meccas, and powerful religions unique as the geography itself. Since the early 1990s, the region’s burgeoning metal scene has faced immense challenges but has nonetheless come a long way in spreading its remarkable philosophy and sound. I had some questions coming into this topic. Notably, in what countries does Middle Eastern metal dominate? What are the bands in this region influenced by and how original are they? What Middle Eastern elements are incorporated and how? What philosophies underpin the music and how is it spreading? Finally, how comfortable are these artists with a categorization like Middle Eastern? A term such as this is often a double-edged sword. On one hand this designation allows bands to differentiate themselves and embody the traditional elements they contain. For others, this term may not accurately describe the music – simply black or death metal may be more apt.

So who are the major players in Middle Eastern metal? The movement is largely underground due to cultural and political restrictions, yet a great number of bands are beginning to make a name for themselves. Many credit Orphaned Land, an Israeli group fusing death and doom metal with traditional Middle Eastern folk music, with starting the fire for this style of metal. Their style is very melodic, especially in the vocals.  Founded in 1991, they have been incredibly successful and distributed worldwide. Their concept albums aim to unite traditionally clashing cultures and religions, something they have been very successful with in a war-torn region. A US tour is planned in support of their 2010 release, The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR.

In 1993 Melechesh became one of the first signed black metal bands in Israel. Their debut demo As Jerusalem Burns combined traditional black metal with Arabic rhythms and drumming. Over the course of their four major releases, they have begun to fuse Middle Eastern melodies into the mix, taking on a more melodic style while remaining true to their black metal roots.  They call their own sound “Mesopotamian Metal”. Mysticism, occult themes and Arabic mythology riddle their lyrics. Lead guitarist Ashmedi is well-educated and is an outspoken and down-to-earth member of the Middle Eastern metal scene.  He cites influence from bands such as Slayer and Bathory, as well as Middle Eastern folk and meditation music. Melechesh is signed to Nuclear Blast Records, arguably the only band of its kind on the label.  They are playing larger festivals like Wacken Open Air, further expanding the genre. The band has in recent years relocated to Amsterdam, largely due to prejudice in Israel against their mixed nationalities.

This relocation appears to be a trend among artists in more resistant countries.  Many are in search of a larger fan base, touring, and some freedom from oppression. In Israel, death metal bands Arallu and Salem are also somewhat legendary and have a strong following within the country – Salem just played its first show outside Israel in 2007.

In Middle Eastern nations, especially where theocracies rule, metal is seen as revolutionary and threatening to the government and everyday life.  It is not considered as an outlet for aggression or an art form. Especially in very traditional religious nations such as Lebanon, Iran, and Egypt, practice or even support of metal is forbidden and punishable by law. Censorship of music is rampant, and seemingly simple acts such as having tattoos or long hair, wearing black, or even wearing your favorite band’s t-shirt could easily leave you ostracized and in jail for “pure satanic” acts. Strongly Satanist bands in the Middle East are not common – most simply rebel against the negative connotations of Christianity and organized religion. One of the few relatively safe refuges for metal in the region is the United Arab Emirates, particularly the state of Dubai. Recognized by many as being more open and tolerant of metal, UAE hosts some notable groups, such as the death/thrash metal band Nervecell. Dubai has also put itself on the map as an important touring location for not only Middle Eastern metal acts but also international bands. Events like the Dubai Desert Rock Festival and the Sandstorm Music Festival are held each summer and continue to grow.

Another element of Middle Eastern metal is language. It can be surprisingly difficult to find folk metal artists that create songs lyrically in their indigenous language. Alnamrood (Saudi Arabia) and Narjahanam (Bahrain), with names meaning ‘non-believer’ and ‘fire of hell’, respectively, are two black metal bands in the region known to incorporate Arabic lyrics telling stories of Middle Eastern history, war, and religion.

Many Middle Eastern metal bands have a philosophy and lyrical themes rooted in the mystical elements of the Middle East and its unique culture. The Double Harmonic, or Byzantine Scale, is a common melodic characteristic of many Middle Eastern metal songs, giving them that memorable ‘Arabian Nights’ sound. While authorities in the region often see metal simply as a Western threat to traditional religious culture, they do not comprehend the unifying power of metal for the Middle East. Metal has no political or religious boundaries. There are countless creative bands incorporating Middle Eastern melodies, rhythms, themes, and their own culture into the music.  Metal exists in nearly every country in the region, and with films like Global Metal and books such as Heavy Metal Islam, exposure and support is growing for metal in the Middle East. Go out, explore, and support these metal artists and this movement – I guarantee you will learn more than what you set out to find.

-Peter Ganzlin

Sources: Aljazeera English program hosted by Richard Gizbert: video from Bloody Roots of Middle Eastern Metal.

-Melechesh Interview on JorZine

-Decibel Magazine

-Band Webpages