Blackwater Holylight (RidingEasy Records), the début album from the Portland, Oregon-based doomstresses of the same name, delivered not merely an enlivening quality but also realised founder member Alison ‘Sunny’ Faris‘ intent of giving heavier rock a new lease of life by incorporating more tuneful, lighter music into that sound. With second album Veils Of Winter (RidingEasy Records) the band, now a quintet with the addition of guitarist Mikayla Mayhew, aim to expand on that formula and the buzz created by that first release.
Saudi Arabian Black Metal? I know. The guys of AlNamrood deserve full marks for merely attempting it, right? When you consider that Melechesh felt forced to depart the allegedly less extreme Israel after fierce opposition to their fiery output, these fellas must have been shitting themselves at times. And Diaji Al Joor (Shaytan) is their fifth album…
If those new to the band are guessing at some nasty old ranting with a middle-eastern influence, you’re on the right path: mystical sounds course through the album, with the percussion of ‘Zamjara Alat’ possessing a hollow tone and augmenting the exotic winds. It’s this blend of such haunting beauty with a sinister horror that grabs the ears from the outset and the eerie, scene-setting opener ‘Dahleen’ is adorned with Arabian chanting and the stirring pipes which grace the region’s music.
There’s an element of the theatrical and (whisper it) comedic about certain aspects: Humbaba’s vocal delivery is a crazed, blustering shout rather than the expected evil rasp; and the swerving riff of ‘Hawas Wa Thuar’ is augmented by what appears to be the sporadic bursts of kazoos. It’s a little like Hail Spirit Noir finding Khaleeji Folk: that outfit’s mad switch of obsidian MOR given a hefty Asian groove in the infectious melodies of ‘Ejhaph’, the album’s rough production and those angry bellows adding an almost Pirate metal, ‘singalong’ element to proceedings.
Those indigenous rhythms and instruments add wads of intrigue and originality to the fire however, and it’s here where the strength of the album lies. Despite a ferocious riff and vocal ‘Adghan’ would be merely a bizarre, Doom-laden take on Rotting Christ without those enlivening Eastern overlays. Here is a true melding of cultural styles and this makes for a curiously joyous experience.
Many will undoubtedly dismiss this as Extreme metal novelty or, even worse, worthy of attention for bravery alone, which would be a travesty because there’s real gravity and a stunning inventive ability at work alongside the rampant hostility. Together with those wonderfully hypnotic melodies, this makes Diaji Al Joor enthralling and, in a ‘mad genius’ way, quite brilliant.
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