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Kitab Al Awthan - A Spirit of Dark Rebellion - 93%

PatrickPlantana, June 14th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, Shaytan Productions

Kitab Al Awthan by the elusive Al-Namrood brings a heavier drone to the overall atmosphere than their previous works. It diligently sculpts this with sounds of cryptic folklore paired with melodic instrumental crossovers then back to there thrash style guitar work and pacing. A vibrant spirit of rebellion echoes throughout the entirety of this album. Kitab Al Awthan blends the band's unique style of fast and trippy riffs, guttural chants, dysrhythmic drum beats, frequent melodic change-ups, and instrumental focus shifts into one very dark, ancient world of arcane imagery.

These guys are great at giving each song it's own voice, an anthem even for some. It's difficult to find yourself bored listening to any song, there isn't much noticeable repetition from song to song. Some songs put heavy focus on what is being said through gnarly, vicious grunts. Other times, the high tones of the traditional instruments summon you into their realm. All of this while usually maintaining a speedy black metal undertone that screams rebellion and feels black to the very core! These themes and styles become more apparent in some of Al-Namrood’s later work.

Track number 5, Al Quam, Hakem Al Huroob, is notably one of my favorites as it pulls you into a carnival ride through hell. You're greeted with intense blast beats followed up with a snarling set of growls blaspheming into your eardrum. The chorus sounds like a fleeting swan song of horror containing dire premonitions. Then these guys jam the fuck out in true black metal fashion! More blast beats, hats, fast riffs, and drone drone drone til’ the very end! Cuz fuck ‘em that’s why!

I’d like to also mention track number 8, Bani La’em. Deep chords immediately punch you in the gut as we’re pulled into the fire yet again. Raspy, guttural spits hurl out words of seeming chaos and destruction. What I perhaps like the most about this track is the commanding guitars. They bring an air of assertion to what they are saying, this band has a beautiful way of conveying the power of their faith behind the notes and rhythms they choose. The song ends wonderfully with a high-winding, anxiety inducing spin into madness before finishing off with the exit of hard beat marching drums and guitar chords.

My big fascination with this group is not only their broad eclectic sounds, but the culture, religion and themes behind what is being said. I haven’t been able to find translations on many of their songs in general, but the few I have found indicate a very sinister past of human history. Being anti-Islam in their homeland of Saudi Arabia literally puts them at risk of being killed if they were to play in public forums. They keep their identities concealed to remain protected from their government. That’s conviction for the craft and faith to a next level. This is a great album to really get to know the embodiment of Al-Namrood.

More than a step in the right direction for them - 79%

oneyoudontknow, May 5th, 2013

Kitab Al Awthan is quite an interesting piece of music. Not only does it mark another output from a band, whose origin provides anything but pleasantries for metal fans or bands, it is also another step in establishing a clearer identity. How all had been merged together has changed a bit and attempts to break away from what had been presented earlier on. Even though it might be a bit daring to name the latest instalment as being filled with counterpoints, these have at least some amount of an impact now. Not all had been woven together into an indistinguishable mess, like it had been the case on one of the earlier albums. Contrasts begin to take shape and play a role. Nevertheless, it would be too far-reaching to speak of a revolution, because the basic setting has remained as it is, while certain facets have received some kind of support.

Yes, especially the keyboards, sadly there are still no “real” Middle Eastern instruments, are able to shine with nice motives that are clearly not of Western origin. In terms of how all of this plays out, it is rather some kind of successive appearance though and with little sophistication in the actually arrangement. “Bani La'em“ is a good example in this respect: some kind of Middle Eastern melody thrown hence here and hence there between the keyboards and the guitars. Yet the motive is merely performed in two different ways, despite that both of these have their own distinct character. To put it simple: both offer the same … and nothing else. It is the absence of something daring, to be at least a bit progressive, to be a bit more extreme and to break a bit out of the narrow corridor of the black metal genre that backfires in some respect. “Min Trab Al Jahel”, the second track, points in the right direction but is inconclusive in this regard as well.

Yet this all should be cast aside to some extent, because the nine compositions are able to create a fascination that make it interesting to enjoy this album; despite all its flaws. The mixture of cultures and the surprising ways in which this tends to play out are the core arguments in favour of this release. With the focus still on the metal side, the music has enough punch to reach out to the metal audience and should not be neglected for the increase in the folk elements over the course of the years. Especially this progression comes over as an attempt to establish a hybrid forms between the two various cultures; something that has found expression in the music already. In terms of progress and the level of variation this band from Saudi Arabia seems to be on the forefront of extreme Middle Eastern metal. Their direction remains unclear though.

Another step might be to push it all a bit more. The drum-computer comes over as an obsolete element now and then – due to the programming and its inability to provide some interesting motives –, while also the limitation on growling pushes the band in a somewhat awkward position, because AlNamrood refuses to set some counterpoints in these. Maybe this reluctance is also motivated due to their social or political environment, which demands from the band to be cautious in regard to topics and contents. Not everything is allowed to be expressed in their home country and even their Metal Archives' entry has seen a removal of the lyrics recently. Hence, this distortion can be interpreted as a means to protect the band from interference by various factions of their surrounding environment. Maybe the small amount of “real” instruments is also a result of the necessity to keep a low profile.

Kitab Al Awthan brings the music to a new level. It presents the concept in a clearer and more balanced kind of way. More variation would still be a nice thing to have, but also in its current arrangement the performance is quite enjoyable. A combination of rather conservative black with folk elements... and influences from Middle Eastern cultures.

Based on a review originally written for ‘A dead spot of light (Number 22)’:
http://www.archive.org/details/ADeadSpotOfLight...Number22

Kitab Al-Awthan - 75%

lordazmolozmodial, February 13th, 2012

Al Namrood is an Oriental black metal band that rises from Saudi Arabia, and it settled itself as one of the most known "Arabic black metal" along with Narjahannam. The band released two full-length albums, (Astfhl Al Tha'r) and (Estorat Taghoot), and they reflect the identity and the themes beyond the mysterious inspiring oriental music, the arabic historical and mythological lyrics showed more features to these guys, and by the starting of the new year the band is releasing its third full-length album "Kitab Al-Awthan" which means "The Book Of Idols" in English.

The instrumentation of "Kitab Al-Awthan" is forming historical scenes of wars and rough events which are taking a place in the heart of the Arabian desert, Forty-seven minutes of flowing desert sand will cover your ears, the use of "Tabla" and "Oud" and "Kanun" are building a structure of oriental atmosphere, with the western mixture of "Guitars" and "Drums" that sink together into this vortex of golden sand.

"Mirath Al Shar" is an instrumental track (The intro of the album), the keyboards work and the percussion of this track guide your imagination toward the desert wars and the old passed races that breathed in the old centuries upon the golden sand of the Arabian desert. "Min Trab Al Jahel" starts with grim metal riff until the drums-line and the lead guitars complete the whole sound, and then the "Kanun" get into the mixture to create an "OrientalWestern" piece of music, the black metal vocals appear in this track violently, the shrinky throat is roaring the Arabic lyrics in a rhythmic way.

The clear Middle Eastern influences are crystallized through the tracks "Hayat Al Khlood" and "Ashab Al Aika", the instrumentation gave a burning living spirit into the compositions, more brutality and barbarity are streaming with the vocals and the guitars in the track "Al Quam, Hakem Al Huroob", faster drumming and more powerful environment are shining like charm here, the progression of the album in this track shows more stability, no tracks are getting away from the Oriental black metal atmosphere circle.

"Kiram Al Mataia" starts with odd and mysterious Kanun melodies, and then the guitars and the drums cross the the kanun melodies to form melodic black metal track full of Oriental influences, the track ends as it begins, with the mysterious kanun melodies. Wa Ma Kan Lil Sufha Entisar" is an instrumental track of extreme black metal riffs and Middle Eastern ambiance, "Ez Al Mulook" continued the same theme rhythm of the previous tracks, but now with more vital lead guitars, with time the track become aggressive and rough. "Bani La’em" starts with mid-paced black metal riffing and sharp lead guitar sound, more crispy vocals. And finally, the album faces its end with the instrumental track "Wa Ma Kan Lil Sufha Entisar" that shows the same strategy.

My complain about this album are the role of the lead guitars, and the production of the drums and the vitality of the bass, the keyboards in this album cover the whole sound of the tracks and act as "the main instrument", and this makes the other instruments neglected, the existence of the lead guitars are so fragile and need to be more essential, the drums and the bass are left over behind the veil of the keyboards, more vital bass will and clear drums production will eliminate all of my complains.

If you don't know Al Namrood but already know Narjahanam, then this album is recommended for you, the total sound creates a good oriental black metal atmosphere, if you are searching for a grim oriental black metal work to fill your ears with desert sand, then blow your ears with "Kitab Al-Awthan".

Composition: 6/10
Musicianship: 6/10
Production: 7/10
Level Of Originality : 7/10
Level Of Ferocity: 7/10

Originally written for:
www.jorzine.com

AL-NAMROOD - KITAB AL-AWTHAN - 90%

FMB, February 12th, 2012

Folk metal at its best is a fantastic form of escapism and certainly the most evocative of all of metal's kaleidoscope of genres. It's this quality that makes Al-Namrood's Kitab Al-Awthan ('The Book of Idols') such an engaging and intriguing listen. From the first jarring note of 'Mirath al Shar' the album transports the listener through a particularly menacing vision of the band's native Saudi Arabian culture.

It's this that really sets Al-Namrood apart from the pack. The Middle Eastern influences really bring a unique and completely fresh feel to the band's familiar black metal stylings. Everything you would expect from a black metal band is present – harsh vocals, fierce blast beats and that whining guitar tone that is particular to this strain of metal – however its dark and otherworldly atmosphere is enhanced by the Arabian instrumentation and arrangement. Long after the earliest black metal bands terrified listeners with their new demonic sound, it is rare to find a band today that still sounds genuinely frightening. Satan simply isn't scary any more. The Middle East, on the other hand, most certainly is and it is this – that uncomfortable unfamiliarity – that makes Kitab Al-Awthan such a spine-tingling experience.

It is very easy to label albums that mix different styles as little more than a novelty piece (indeed, there are some who believe that all folk-inspired metal is simply a novelty, rather than a mature and nuanced genre in its own right), but it is an accusation that would be harsh to level at Al-Namrood. This album is far more complex than simply overlaying Eastern-inspired melodies on top of traditional black metal, Al-Namrood's entire approach to making music is clearly influenced by traditional Arabian music. The clearest example of this on Kitab Al-Awthan is the penultimate track 'Bani La'em', which is driven mostly by its guitar and drum work and yet still maintains its Arabian flavour just as strongly as any other song on the album, while its more understated use of traditional instrumentation make it more accessible to those who prefer more straightforward black metal.

Kitab Al-Awthan is a challenging listen and is at first slightly overwhelming. The familiar black metal influences are instantly recognisable, but often the unfamiliar melodies and song structures are surprising and, at first, slightly confusing. This album is an ideal introduction for listeners, not only to Al-Namrood, but also to Middle Eastern metal in general. However, those who are already familiar with the band are unlikely to find anything they haven't already heard on previous releases. As a display of brutal, Arabian black metal Kitab Al-Awthan is a compelling proof-of-concept, however the lack of variety on display may discourage repeat listens.

I found Kitab Al-Awthan to be a genuinely refreshing listen and one that is highly recommended for anyone for anyone who is seeking an original and interesting album, especially if your tastes are suited to the more brutal end of the metal spectrum.