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Meandering oriental death metal - 65%

natrix, April 11th, 2004

I will give this album credit for being pretty groundbreaking, as far as opening the doors to Israeli bands and starting up the whole "oriental" influenced (these guys use not only melodies, but oriental instruments, and Hebrew and Arabic lyrics sometimes) death metal movement, but it has some serious flaws.
The main flaw is the fact that there are very good sections to the music, but you can tell that these guys weren't that experianced at the time. Sure, they play really well (Yossi's guitar playing is awesome, and so is Kobi's amazing voice), but the songs have so much going on in them that they have to chop out a really good moment then throw in something else before it has the time to really mature and grow on you. That's the main problem, because I just can't listen to the whole thing stright through without getting bored in certain parts. The other problem is that they'll throw in technical little pieces here and there, which jarr you and disrupt the flow of the song.
"The Sahara's Storm" is a good way to start it out, and it features everything that you'll hear throughout the album from heavy guitars, rumbling death vocals, oriental melodies, clean vocals, and a few keyboards. The ending of "Ornaments of Gold" is really fantastic, a great way to end a song. "Aldiar Al Mukadisa" is really weird: dudes singing in a big building, with a few voice overs, guitars, oud and ethnic drumming. It doesn't sound like anything else on here. "The Beloved's Cry" is a slow ballad, and it's the most consistent song on here, so it's no wonder that it's one of their most popular songs nowadays. Kobi uses only his clear voice on here, with a female back-up, and Yossi plays a really heartfelt solo at the end. "Seasons Unite" starts up as a slower, melodic song, then goes into some mid-paced Morbid Angel-esque riffing in the middle (think the beginning of "Fall from Grace" with a little part with some weird oriental drumming--cool!), before going into something entirely different. There's even a few blast beats on the album, which have never showed up since.
Luckily, they improved with age, and El Norra Alila shows a massive improvement on their sound. This is good for fans of ethnic metal, but I cannot reccommend it to fans of straight-up death, doom, or black metal. It's interesting, but a little difficult to get into, especially if you've heard the work they've done since.