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Chucking riffs off the wall - 46%

gasmask_colostomy, December 2nd, 2019

Let’s be quite clear: Arallu had an awkward introduction to the world on their debut album. The War on the Wailing Wall is hampered by its drum machine, a difficult 2 member line-up, and very obvious influences. For all that though, the 20 years that have passed since then have been kind to the Israeli group’s first effort, since a lot of the riffs stand up and the atmosphere seems like a convincing version of something you might hear from second wave black metal or Norwegian black thrash like Aura Noir.

To get the composition process out of the way first, this was pretty much a solo album by Butchered, being joined by Avi Caspi on guitars but doing everything else himself, including some of the guitars too. Most songs last no more than 4 minutes and have little to no structure, simply pounding ahead on black or thrash riffs and annoying mechanized blasts, occasionally breaking off from the high-speed assault. That’s why the decent quality of the riffs is so important, since we mostly just get riffs and some dry roars to accompany them. More varied songs like ‘Morbid Shadow’ pause to play with slower rhythms and trickier riffs, though nothing could be described as technical, barring – quite oddly – the prominent bass that proceeds from the dramatic introduction of ‘Arallu’s Warriors’, which is the opening track. By the way, 2 songs contain “warriors” in the title, 2 contain “Hell”, and “Satan” pops up twice too, most notably in ‘Satanic Birth in Jerusalem’. Though Arallu would later mix themes more with mysticism, you can be sure they’re doing normal black metal stuff here.

Also separating this from later works from the band, The War on the Wailing Wall never hints at any folk influence. The instruments and styles used absolutely conform to Scandinavian extreme metal of the same decade, songs like ‘Mesopotamian Genie’ and ‘Satanic Birth in Jerusalem’ sadly sounding very familiar despite potentially interesting subjects. Comically for me, the prevalence of that Tom Araya scream seems rather at odds with the primitive black metal style exhibited for most of the release. The only specific feature that I pull out as different comes in two separate pieces that I would like to call the intro and outro; however, the sound effects and voices that conclude ‘Kill the Traitor’ find their partner in ‘Sword of Power’, which is perplexingly the album’s second track. In the grand scheme of things, I guess it doesn’t matter much, and putting ‘Arallu’s Warriors’ first seems a better welcome to the band’s debut, though for me it aptly summarizes the confusion of The War on the Wailing Wall. This was an unsteady first step.